Terry A. Ratzlaff is a visual artist. His photography draws inspiration from brief encounters with people and situations that are overlooked by others or which are disapproved of as unsafe, seamy, or uncomfortable. In doing so, he captures the relationships that humans try to create with environments or social contexts from which they are detached or isolated, but in which they hope to be accepted. In his work, Ratzlaff hopes to bring more attention to the overlooked. Within environments that have been constructed to emphasize the positive and attractive sides of life, Ratzlaff captures the darkness of reality: either its visual darkness or its darker mental states. He brings people face to face with people or situations they may feel uncomfortable with, but which, at their core express a universal desire to be accepted or wanted. He lives and works in Lincoln, Nebraska where he is currently pursuing a MFA degree at The University of Nebrasks-Lincoln.
“But The Eyes Are Blind One Must Look With The Heart”
Drawing from the perspective of the absurdist, “But The Eyes Are Blind One Must Look With The Heart” considers the conflict between the human tendency to seek meaning in life and the inability to find any. Using Craigslist Casual Encounters and Backpage.com as a vehicle of anonymity, Ratzlaff connects with pseudonymous suiters in pursuit of sexually charged clandestine interactions with others operating under similar intentions and goals in mind.
The work deconstructs the romantic fantasies presented in the form of personal ads found on these anonymous platforms, as well as providing an introspective examination of conversational dialogue formed over time between Ratzlaff and those photographed. Hoping to confront the viewer with these phantasmic attempts, a collision between fantasy and reality occurs within the text and photographs.
In turn, creating a space dictated by pleasure and lust behind the veil of discretion. the present and future. Though the focus of my work is rooted in the past, I look not for grief’s causes but for its presence.