Photo Gallery: Exhibit A
KEVIN GUTTING Having two parents who smoked and succumbed early to lung disease is not the reason I took this picture. Purchase photo reprints »
This is not an easy picture to look at, I know. In fact, the first time it flashed on my computer screen, I had an involuntary reaction to it. For the briefest second, I could smell the same “stank” of soggy, stale, spent cigarettes as vividly as the day I shot it. (Stank, as in stink — but even riper.) But the astonishing sight of it — a little bit of corralled chaos, nearly overflowing but seemingly untended — so piqued my interest that I had to preserve it. Though I pass by this ash can often, I’m never sure if the cigarettes are the same ones or a whole new crop. I wonder how many people and how many conversations it took to fill it. Or maybe the butts were smoked alone in silent thoughts — most do seem to be of a single brand. In my mind there must be a raft of unwritten essays buried in that circle, and all punctuated by the afterthought of a solitary gum wrapper.
— Kevin Gutting