Christine Collins’ “The Keepers”

KEEPERS_NEW-20-300x240I love bees.  I’m allergic to them, which makes the relationship more vexed than it might otherwise be, but it does not diminish my fondness for them.

I’m also really interested in the way that bees are depicted in contemporary culture.  They are lauded for the work they do as pollinators, presented as the hapless victims of some human foolishness that causes colony collapse disorder, and function as a trope for a whole suite of concerns about how humans interact with the natural world.

KEEPERS_NEW-5-300x236And, in Christine’s photographs in THE KEEPERS series, they become very nearly sacramentalized.  In a really good way.  What I am often struck by in these images is that they resonate with religious imagery.  It’s as if the beekeepers, in their effort to simultaneously connect with and control “nature,” are reproducing the relationships to the world that we see in many religious rituals.  I guess that shouldn’t be a surprise, since so many rituals are efforts to set aside our sense of alienation–either from one another or from the larger more-than-human world–and feel deeply connected.  Not connected, exactly, more like oceanic.

Looking at them, I cannot help but think of a high priest or priestess invoking something holy, of a Catholic priest swinging the thurible, of the labor of the keepers as a kind of offering.  Images from this project are on view right now at the Foster Gallery, at the Noble and Greenough School in Dedham, MA.  So, so worth a visit!