The Arts Council of Preston County Spreading the Arts

David Cerbone

David Cerbone

Nearly all of my photographs are made within walking distance of my home in Albright, West Virginia, in some cases no more than a few steps out my front or back door. Many of my photographs – especially those of an abandoned bridge across the Cheat River that figures in the majority of them – are records of my visual obsessions, a fixation upon an object or scene that I feel the need to return to repeatedly, and attempt to photograph again and again, with different cameras, from a different angle, in different light, or in a different season.

Every semester in my introductory philosophy class, I teach Heraclitus, one of the central figures in the pre-Socratic era of Western philosophy. Heraclitus is most famous for the fragment declaring that one cannot step twice into the same river. When I teach this fragment, I always explain it by describing my (almost) daily walks by the Cheat River, in the field below my house. In some sense, it is the same river, day after day, year in, year out, but in another sense, photography proves Heraclitus right: one can never get the same photograph again, no matter how precisely one tries to recreate the conditions under which the first was taken. From frame to frame, from roll to roll, from moment to moment, something changes: the level of the river, the contours of the banks, the number of stones visible, the angle of the light, the movement of the water, the state of the surrounding foliage, even the color of the water itself. One can return to the same place over and over again, but it will never look the same, never offer the same look, and in that sense, it will never be the same either.

Photography, which is usually understood as the ultimate attempt to capture and preserve a moment, to freeze and so keep it forever, also shows to us this transience.


David Cerbone Gallery

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