The most embarrassing genre of photography I can think of is pictures of comedians - humor and photography being strange and usually awkward bedfellows. So I always appreciate a series of photographs that seem genuinely funny. Such are Tim Davis’s new pictures - “My Audience” – in which he records the audience (or lack of) that come to hear him at various talks and book signings.
Davis has had an interesting career to date. Known initially for his pictures of paintings, in which the way light fell on the canvas brought new meaning and perspective to usually well-known museum pieces, Davis then went on to become more of a social commentator of modern American life. He’s clearly a colorist, but with a deadpan view of the world. His big project prior to the audience series was a book “My Life in Politics” which looked at a conflicted America at the turn of the millennium. (One of my favorite pictures was the interior of a Mexican restaurant with an inspirational mural of Martin Luther King above which were the words: “One People, One Nation, One Taco, One Destiny”.)
But back to “My Audience” which is both situational and self-deprecating. Not only do the empty chairs often outnumber the full, but Davis manages to capture what seem to be pretty true to life expressions for anyone who’s been in a similar situation. And the series only gets funnier as it moves along. It will be interesting to see what’s next for Davis, but it wouldn’t be such a bad thing if he finds himself becoming an American Martin Parr.