Photographer Sharon Lockhart, 51, On Passion And Mistakes

Photo by Emily Berl

Photo by Emily Berl

“'She is thinking about how everyday people can be both subjects and performers,' said Stuart Comer, chief curator of media and performance art at the Museum of Modern Art, which acquired 'Goshogaoka' this year. Her early commitment to the fixed-frame camera, in the first decade of the Internet, when the speed of images was changing so frantically, was a 'radical move,' Mr. Comer said, based on her dedication to 'what happens if you really scrutinize an image in all of its detail over a long period of time.'

She has forged an ethnographic approach to photography and filmmaking that combines documentary and re-enactments. She spent months studying the drill practices of a Japanese middle school’s girls’ basketball team for 'Goshogaoka' (1997), screened at film festivals and institutions including the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. She visited a small town in the Sierra Nevada foothills over four years, for the film 'Pine Flat' (2005), shown at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, and she integrated herself in the world of manual laborers in Bath, Me., her own hometown, for 'Lunch Break' (2008), a slow-motion meditation on the customs of industrial workers during their downtime.

'I feel very fortunate to have found a passion,' said Ms. Lockhart.

The film, to be included in Ms. Lockhart’s show in September at the Artist’s Institute in New York, opens on a frame of a country landscape, a tree animated only by sounds of nature and voices. Slowly, girls emerge from the camouflage of its branches, and the screen then cuts to a written conversation including this interchange:

'Sometimes I feel like God controls everything. ...'

'I just don’t buy it. I think everyone controls their own life. ... You walk down your own path. Even if somebody stands in your way. ...'

'Except that sometimes along the way you can make lots of mistakes. ...'

'Mistakes reveal things.'" - Hilarie Sheets via The New York Times