a shimmer of possibility is the latest project by influential British photographer Paul Graham. This work was created during Graham’s many travels through the United States since 2002. a shimmer of possibility consists of twelve sequences varying in number: from just a few images to more than ten. Each sequence offers an informal look at the life of ordinary, individual Americans – from a woman eating to a man waiting for the bus. The sequences focus attention on very ordinary things, which Graham has photographed with affection and curiosity.
Each sequence is a short, casual encounter, where we consider for a moment something that attracts our attention. Then life goes on, full of new possibilities. The way Graham presents the diverse sequences in the exhibition is crucial. Instead of being shown in a linear fashion, a sequence fans out over the wall like a cloud. Due to the carefully considered and inventive structure, no viewing direction or predominant hierarchy is imposed on the individual images. The eye of the viewer wanders over the photos, offering the opportunity to make personal connections in an associative manner.
a shimmer of possibility can be seen as the ultimate antithesis of what Henri Cartier-Bresson called ‘the decisive moment’. This French master endeavoured to record exactly those moments where subject matter and formal aspects combined perfectly in a single image. Paul Graham, by contrast, defends how we normally look around us. We move through the world and look from left to right, see something that grabs our attention, move towards it, glance to the side while en route, pass that by and continue on our way. Observation is a never-ending series of ‘non-decisive moments’, full of potential for anyone who is open to see it.