Mark Hahn Photography

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Category: Solar Culture

Artificial Boundaries – Solar Culture Gallery

Opening Saturday 23 February 2017

6-9 PM

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Last weekend, I was by the Mexican-American border near El Centro, CA. If not for the Border Patrol, their high tech surveillance gear — and of course — the steel wall that stretches as far as you can see, this would be just another patch of bleak Southwestern desert. Nothing aside from us humans, would see this as anything different. The wind blows across the border. Snakes and hares pass as if it is nothing… and nothing is really what it is.

These borders are simply man-made contrivances that separate “us” from “them.” While this divisive instinct is the root of all wars and used for the justification for oppressing of other peoples, it also provides many with their personal identity and pride. We apparently subdivide ourselves into different groups very naturally. Maybe it’s an adaption for survival, but at a minimum, this human divisiveness, hatred and anger lowers the level of all of our happiness.

But while walking in this no-man’s land, it seems to bring out the abstractness of this political reality. Do any of us actually have our own “tribe,” or are we all somewhat lost? Is this why we cling to our heritage, our country or our race as defining aspects of self? Maybe the visualization of being an individual walking alone in the desert and coming across another person is a better way to live — realizing that we are all just people lucky to have each other as-is.

I am showing these three new photographs in the gallery:

Come see the show if you are in town!

Solar Culture Gallery is located at 31 East Toole Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85701

All images and content copyrighted 2017 by Mark Hahn with all rights reserved.

Solar Culture Gallery – Waves Crash In

Opening Saturday 8 October 2016

6-9 PM

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I am showing these three new photographs in the gallery. They were used as the album art for the cover of my new music CD, Waves Crash In. All three were taken at the Salton Sea. That is a George Jones LP sitting on the table where it had been left by last owners of the abandoned trailer (Bombay Beach).

Come see the show if you are in town!

Solar Culture Gallery is located at 31 East Toole Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85701

This is the front cover of Waves Crash In:

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The official announcement for the album is here (showing all album art and CD design).

Waves Crash In is available for purchase right now from Amazon.com here.

Digital distribution is being handled by bandcamp.com where the album is available here (along with my previous three albums).

For more information, contact Mark Hahn at markhahnpublishing@gmail.com.

All images and content copyrighted 2016 by Mark Hahn with all rights reserved.

Bombay Beach, Salton Sea – Solar Culture Gallery

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Opening Saturday 27 February 2016

6-9 PM

My Photos on display:

Solar Culture Gallery is located at 31 East Toole Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85701

These photos were taken in the near ghost town of Bombay Beach on the western shores of the Salton Sea in California. While a dike was built to protect this section of the town from flooding, it is being ravaged by time and neglect just as decisively as the homes and trailers that have been devoured by the sea outside the protection of the dike.

My girlfriend and I made a quick stop here a couple weeks ago on our way to LA to pick up her artwork from the gallery where she had a solo show. Swinging past the Salton Sea was not that far out of our way and it was a nice detour into memories of going here together a few years back. It was nice to find that things hadn’t changed.

We had already been in all these trailers and small deserted houses, but very little had been touched. The same things where still sitting on the deserted tables collecting dust. The same chairs and sofas sat in silent rooms, only now perhaps splitting open a little farther at the seams.

There is something peaceful in this desolation. Even though there is an almost endless stream of tourists and gawkers driving through to experience the ruin and desperation, the few remaining locals seem to take it in stride. None even paid us any mind while we quietly entered the abandoned homes — some with tax documents tacked on the door stating the back taxes that could be paid to take ownership of these properties. One particularly intact trainer sitting on a nice lot could be had for only $7,000. It made me think.

What would it be like to tell everyone to go fuck themselves, plunk down $7,000 and just move in? I’d guess that on a quiet day, my new neighbors would come by to talk, if only out of curiosity to find out why the hell anyone would move here. Maybe they’d understand that you just get fed up with all the bullshit of life and get to a point where you don’t want to be bothered by anything. Maybe they’d be of the same mind. Maybe you’d stop smelling the dead fish and putrid algae blooms after a few weeks.

People buy lottery tickets so they can dream their way out of their current life. I have too much of an understanding of statistics to buy into those dreams, but the dream of moving to Bombay Beach is a plausible fantasy that I can briefly entertain for at least an afternoon. Sometimes anything can look good when seen in the right light.

For more information, contact Mark Hahn at markhahn2000@gmail.com.

All images and content copyrighted 2016 by Mark Hahn with all rights reserved.

Solar Culture Gallery – Jackrabbit Homesteads

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Opening Saturday 27 September 2014

6-9 PM

My work in this show:

Solar Culture Gallery is located at 31 East Toole Avenue, Tucson, AZ

East of Twenty Nine Palms California, north of Joshua Tree National Monument and at the far end of Wonder Valley, the desert opens up and California State Highway 62 seems to stretch out and lead you into forever. There is a place along this road where the rugged landscape is dotted with curious tiny dwellings. These are the Jackrabbit Homesteads. There are hundreds of them. No signs tell you who built them or for what. It’s easy to imagine they are the remnants of some sprawling Utopia that has been long lost to the winds. Maybe I’m just always looking for a personal Utopia, but that’s what I see. A place to escape to.

Part of me looks at these little homesteads and dream of moving in. Part of me would like to leave everything behind. You can stand on the threshold of any one of these structures and imagine a beautiful alternative life. A simple life free of all the trouble and struggle that seems to go with every day.

In the 1940’s, thanks to the passage of the Small Tract Act of 1938, people could stake a claim to small parcels of land in this region and take ownership if they built a dwelling on the property. These homes were mostly scooped up by urban dwellers in nearby Los Angeles who were looking for free vacation property. Many of the homes were built by hand by these claim stakers. You could buy minimal homestead kits. These pet projects were basically the stuff of dreams.

People like the idea of using their own two hands to build their way to freedom. I imagine the homesteaders had the same sense of purpose as the men who spend their nights building boats or airplanes in their garages. Blow up the garage to get them out. There are many routes to freedom. At this point in my life, I would like nothing more for than to slow down and settle into somewhere peaceful – maybe it’s just a place in my mind.

Unfortunately, most of the land in Wonder Valley is barren and the ground dry. Water had to be transported in. Utilities were not available in many areas. Dreams die. After the romantic thrill of ownership faded, so did the enthusiasm. People slowly abandoned these places. Life went on, but theses little dwellings stand as monuments to simple dreams.

Left in tatters, the last standing Jackrabbit Homesteads still provide a place for me to place my own transitory dreams. A place for a new beginning. A place to find peace. To get there, you have to start from the road that you are already on. In this case, it’s Highway 62.

For further thoughts on the concept of home and minimal living, see my article This Must Be the Place. For further information on the Jackrabbit Homesteads, check out this website.

Solar Culture Gallery – Spatial Memories and Photographic Thieves

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Opening Saturday 31 May 2014

6-9 PM

I will be showing three photos in this Solar Culture show that are used in my upcoming article on art, photography and discovered memories — look for this in the next issue of Bad Subjects.

My Photos On Display:

Solar Culture Gallery is located at 31 East Toole Avenue, Tucson, AZ

Solar Culture Gallery – Letting Light Into the Dirty Corners

Letting_light_in1Solar Culture Gallery is located at 31 East Toole Avenue, Tucson, AZ

Opening Saturday 22 February 2014

6-9 PM

These are some early photographs I shot when I first started shooting with my girlfriend Kim. Up until then I did everything artistic completely alone. We met at a Solar Culture Gallery opening when we both hung work. We talked about my photographs. Where I found what I shot. Within a week we met up to shoot photos together in the alleys downtown. Shortly after that, we started heading out into the Arizona Copperbelt. It changed everything. These photos are from Safford and Winkelman AZ, not that it strictly matters where they were taken. We could have been anywhere and we could have found the same thing.

My Photos On Display:

When you take your photography seriously, as do I, shooting photos together with someone else takes a lot of trust and respect. You have to recognize when to give the other person space to do their own thing and them you. At its core, the creative process is both personal and private. You can’t share this comfortably with many people.

Probably what was hardest for me to give up was the exclusivity of discovery when shooting with Kim. When you are out by yourself and stumble on some fragile bit of amazing reality, you feel like an explorer. Your discoveries are your own. When you go out with someone else, you give this up. You can’t take ownership of any one thing you find since it is right there, free for anyone to shoot. This is especially apparent when you find yourselves shooting the exact same thing basically side by side. You have to completely let go of feelings of possession and ownership of what you see.

Unlike other arts, you have to accept the fact that when you are out shooting together — and have very similar equipment — that theoretically you could even take the exact same photograph. This doesn’t happen, but it could. For me, this ended up freeing me because by giving up exclusivity and ownership of my subject, it forces me to more thoroughly concentrate on my emotional intent and the aspects of my art that are independent of subject.

Once, during a particularly brutal critique in art school I ended shooting down some asshole who didn’t get what I was trying to do with my work.

“I don’t care what I’m shooting or whether or not you like my subjects! I use reality as my medium — whatever reality I come across — and I make something new with it. The subject is just whatever happens to be handy at the time. The emotional meanings are in the underlying abstract connections that hold my photographs together.”

There was probably a lot of youthful bravado in this proclamation, but I meant it and it was still true.

It doesn’t matter to me that most people will my see my photos on a deadpan literal plane. I like the tension between literal and abstract, the inanimate mixed with the most deeply emotional content and the magic found among the trash. Shooting with Kim has probably resulted in me developing this sense more keenly than I ever would have had I continued to shoot my photos alone.

Interestingly, shooting together doesn’t get in my way of exploring the emotions of existential aloneness, it just makes it more fun — and fun is one emotion that I’ve never explored much in my art. Fun is something better to experience in real life. Art provides an avenue to work through the difficulties that have piled up inside you over your lifetime. Difficulties are easier to overcome when you are out enjoying and exploring life with someone else.

K_n_M_douglasPhoto: Kim Nicolini

Solar Culture Gallery – As Close as a Truck Stop Gets to Heaven

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Opening Saturday 28 September 2013

6-9 PM

The Triple-T truck stop is located on the south side of Tucson off the I-10. It is one of the last of the great independently owned truck stops in America. An evil franchise truck stop with fast food chain restaurants has opened up right across the street and is trying to put it out of business, but there will never be a place quite like the Triple-T with Omarr’s Hi-way Chef Restuarant. On a good night you might even get to meet Omarr in person. Locals and long haul truckers fill Omarr’s every night. These photos were taken with a toy plastic Holga lens.

My Photos On Display:

Solar Culture Gallery is located at 31 East Toole Avenue, Tucson, AZ

You can read more about the Triple-T here.

Solar Culture Gallery – Henryton Sanitorium Photos

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Opening Saturday 23 February 2013

6-9 PM

Last week was my birthday and my girlfriend took me with her on a business trip to D.C. She asked what I wanted to do there other than going to the museums. I did a quick google search on “abandoned Maryland” and told her my perfect birthday would be spent exploring a couple abandoned insane asylums with her. There aren’t anything like this in Arizona so it was a great adventure and turned out being my best birthday ever! These are the first photos from the trip.

My Photos on Exhibit:

Solar Culture Gallery is located at 31 East Toole Avenue, Tucson, AZ