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“” Despite Baden’s regrets about not documenting his days in the hippie community, there is not a day that has gone by since February 23, 1987 that he has neglected to take a photograph: specifically, of his own face. The day after Andy Warhol’s death, Baden began a lifelong project he calls “Every Day,” for which he routinely stands in front of a portable backdrop, keeps a neutral expression, uses a specific flash, maintains the same angle and photographs his face with a high resolution 35mm film camera and a small tripod. The idea to methodically photograph his face every morning came to him just after he graduated college in 1975: “The idea stuck with me and it was always rattling around in the back of my head. It took 12 years, but I finally made the commitment to do it. By the early ‘80s I had been a photographer for 14 or 15 years, and I had the skills, confidence and know-how to embark on a project like that. People always ask me why I picked that day to start, and I can’t come up with anything more than that’s when I decided.” He adds that, in retrospect he realized Warhol’s death was the final push to get him going. Baden has been featured in various galleries and was one of 15 artists showcased in London for a Henri CartierBresson inspired exhibit. Most recently, his photos have received a surplus of media attention after a time-lapse video of his “Every Day” project went viral. “ Two of the driving forces behind “Every Day” are his fascination with perception of incremental change and the difference between trying to be perfect and being human. “If I see you everyday for 20 to 30 years, I’ll know you the most recent one, you’d think it was a magic trick.” This notion of people being unaware of incremental changes is one that is both alarming and interesting to think about: the thought makes us ask, what else are we missing? While Baden’s work has inspired many others to embark on similar projects and ask similar questions, he believes that he is predetermined to fail. To replicate a portrait every day for the rest of his life, with the only variable being aging, is a feat that Baden acknowledges as impossible. But at the end of the day, he’s not after perfection, or even beauty. In the end, these photos are just that: portraits of Karl Baden’s face. Yet, despite his proclamation that when people see his face or his project they say, “What the fuck is this about; it’s not beautiful, it’s not interesting,” it is interesting, and the lasting impression it leaves on viewers is beautiful. Baden brings beauty through ritual, and sparks interest through the thoughts his work provokes. The real treat for the viewer is discovering why. In Baden’s own summary: “But really it is what it is: just a picture of my face.” If I gave you the first photo I ever took—back in 1987—and then I gave you the most recent one, you’d think it was a magic trick. you and I’ll recognize you. But if I don’t see you until 30 years from now, I won’t recognize you. If I take all the pictures I’ve made of my face and gave them to you in a stack and you went through them one by one, you would sort of feel like there’s been a change, but you wouldn’t really know. But, if I gave you the first photo I ever took—back in 1987—and then I gave FEATURES 15

April 2014 Print Issue

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