Like her previous book reviewed on the site Gardening at Night, Cig Harvey’s work pierces right through the borders of the photographs and grabs hold of the audience. The mix of her images and text create You An Orchestra You A Bomb, the newest edition to Harvey’s genealogy of books. Within the binding, the viewer is face-to-face with life and the everyday. Harvey mixes with her photographs anecdotes of her own life to be at the same level as the viewer while keeping the force of her work at large. The quiet of the photography roars loudly with every page flip as their fragility and the different snippets of story hang in the balance.
Stories Harvey writes throughout the book include a car accident she experienced, a science-themed birthday party, and talking to a woman named Mary about her having blood cancer. Stories that anyone and everyone go through on an everyday basis. Stories that may not feel as though they would have much of an impact because we have no relation to anyone in the book, but there is one other piece of writing that ties everyone together. In the middle of the book, Harvey writes a paragraph saying “Underneath thin skin,...we are orchestras. ...We are first loves and koi ponds, promotions and orgasms. ...we are bombs. We are landfills of audits and mold, turbulence and high blood pressure. We are oil spills and swollen glands, lawsuits and fluorescence...” Harvey’s captivating speech amongst the strain of the everyday constructing around this is grounding and a nice reminder that everyone stopping in viewing You An Orchestra You A Bomb is going through different hard times, but we are all human and great in the end.
A common theme amongst the photographs in You An Orchestra You A Bomb is the build up of tension. A huge bubble of chewing gum about to burst in a woman’s face, a loose tooth ready to come out, water bubbling at the surface; all things that, in less than a second, have a whole string of events that follow. Harvey follows this dynamic closely with life being impacted at any moment accompanied by any number of events that relate to the initial occurrence. It shows consistently throughout that no matter what the case may be, all bets are off in an instance. Like Harvey says “...We are only this moment, the length of a photograph.”
You An Orchestra You A Bomb is a tremendous addition to Harvey’s collection. The cohesion of Harvey’s imagery flows from book to book, binding all of her photographs together no matter the theme behind them. You An Orchestra You A Bomb is a remarkable look into Harvey’s personal world through her words as well as being up that close during turn-on-a-dime instances. For any fan of Harvey’s, You An Orchestra You A Bomb is a spine you will want to see displayed on your shelf.
If you are interested in purchasing You An Orchestra You A Bomb, you can purchase it from Cig Harvey's website.
Written by Madison Rich
Photographs by Madison Rich