Hannibal Matthews: "Rest" [visual art]



Photographer Hannibal Matthews shifts his gaze.

These images stood out to me, as well as what he titles it, because I recall seeing, for a fleeting moment, a glimpse of what Matthews may have seen behind the lens.

Earlier this year, while walking with a friend in Columbia Heights in DC during a sunny, Friday rush hour, I saw an elderly man sitting in a lawn chair in the middle of a walkway of one of the side street row houses.

His head was cocked back, mouth slightly ajar ... he wasn't asleep, but he was resting.

I remember slowing my roll that I had previously hastened to keep up with my friends’ longer strides; gathering my thoughts; and allowing myself to adjust to the time signature of this elderly man.

We both slowed down gradually.

After trying to describe to my friend Hannibal Matthews’s "Rest" photo essay and the parallels between what I saw in these pictures and what we had just observed, we talked about how jarring it was to observe the act of rest juxtaposed against such a bustling, city backdrop … seemingly out of context.

We talked about the freedom in that – to be on your own time signature amidst chaos and haste.

We talked about rest as an act of resistance.

Wikipedia describes the resting heart rate as a person's heart rate when they are at rest: awake but lying down, and not having immediately exerted themselves.

Several musical tempo terms reflect levels relative to resting heart rate as well: "Adagio (at ease, at rest) is typically 66–76 bpm, similar to human resting heart rate, while Lento and Largo ("Slow") are 40–60 bpm, which reflects that these tempi are slow relative to normal human heart rate. Similarly, faster tempi correspond to heart rates at higher levels of exertion, such as Andante (walking: 76–108 bpm) and the like."

And there he was -- orchestrating time, even at rest.