In the 18th century European philosophers proposed the notion of the sublime. Implicit to this concept was the sense that nature was too overwhelming and terrifying to contemplate and that man was powerless before it. In the photographic arts Henri Cartier-Bresson articulated the mental construct of the decisive moment a couple of centuries later. To Cartier-Bresson the essence of art was reduced to the importance of a split second occurrence. The documentary work of Glen E. Friedman goes beyond these philosophical tenants to embrace the vitality of the banalities which are the integers of daily living and the extremists whom obsessively deal with them. The things which we all do and encounter yet seldom focus on are interpreted by a few visionaries whom are seen in his photos. Glen extolls the virtues of these independents who function beyond the constrictive boundaries of societal norm. The action of his subjects may seem bizarre to some, but Friedman reveals the basic logic, initiative and integrity all possess as well as their openness to their surroundings. His innate understanding corresponds to his personal participation in these activities. The basic GEF equation is: he Does, he Sees, he Communicates. Cognitio ergo sum.

This artist's body of work is filled with examples of those who utilize the overlooked and the intangible. Sidewalk curbs, gutters and sewers become the arena for skateboarding denizens of the legendary Dogtown district of Santa Monica, California. To these beings the empty swimming pool, (a concept that is inherently contradictory by definition, i.e. no water = no swim), is transformed by self directed action into an ultimate performance environment. Everyday angst and alienation become art in the explicit lyrics and musical approach of proto punk musicians such as Ian Mackaye, Darby Crash, Jello Biafra, Henry Rollins and Mike Muir. These individuals are motivated to pursue excellence oftentimes at significant personal expense. The protracted legal harassment of Biafra because of his anti censorship stance is a case in point. Rappers such as Ice T, Chuck D of Public Enemy, Ice Cube and King T take ignored aspects of ordinary urban existence and forge them into powerful commentaries which become instruments of political protest. Before Ice T began rhyming about the tactics of gang life and the disenfranchised status of street criminals the general public was oblivious to these elements. After the international police community's concentrated efforts to block the sale of Ice's Body Count tune Cop Killer was there anyone left who wasn't aware of the collision course of avenue ethics and authoritarian power trips? The photography of Glen E. Friedman underscores the critic Malarux's admonition to transform destiny into awareness.

Friedman's choice of subjects is joyously and unapologetically hard core and his shooting style is lean, clean and graphically explicit. His choice of a title for his first book "Fuck You Heroes" is a statement of fact because uncompromising involvement is the nature of Glen's quest. He rejected a Lollapalooza offer to come on board as a guest artist "art and commerce don't mix". When a multi national soft drink corporation famed for doing business in an exploitive manner recently made inroads towards hiring this artist to do work they were turned down flat. "It's not about money, their shit was just not correct", Friedman relates, "Individuals and corporations alike have a responsibility to improve this for everyone and to accentuate the positive tip. My work highlights individuals whom refuse to bow down to those forces trying to limit the thinking and ideals of others."

How he functions provides a bit of insite into his repertoire. The spirit of collaboration is essential to this approach. He hangs with Russell Simmons, The Beastie Boys Jerry Brown, Darlene Oritz, Michael Stipe, Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell, Tony Alva, Steve Olson, Sidney Portier, Richard Meier, Rick Rubin and many of his other frequent subjects. Most assuredly Glen dwells on two coasts at the same time ricocheting back and forth while maintaining separate residences and quivers of transportation vehicles, cameras, clothing et al in New York and Los Angeles. Getting into stuff deep and early is the rule for this photographer rather than the exception. Henry Rollins states "The bottom line is that he was there at the beginning of so much cool stuff in so many different areas it's not funny". Surf-skate, punk, street, b-boy, freestyle, gangsta, hip hop, rap and a whole lot more, Friedman can be located at their origins. Typically his reportage is instrumental in helping give the activities and artist a much larger audience. Some of Glen's accomplishments include: being staff photog for Thrasher, Skateboarder and Action Now magazines; shooting, art directing and publishing the seminal punk photozine My Rules; working on the initial Black Flag video; producing the first Suicidal Tendencies album as well as managing the group; working as a columnist for Maximum Rock'N'Roll; doing early street promotion, putting the world tour book together and later producing some music for Run-DMC; serving as Def Jam Recordings west coast representative; shooting Public Enemy's It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back vid; photographing over 100 album covers for a variety of edge acts and working in New Jersey's Rahway State Prison with the Lifers group.

Waste not want not don't preach and live life as an example for others. When pressed GEF can recite eco factoids like a messianic curandero. He drops science incessantly. "The processing of a single roll of 35 mm film results in 25 gallons of contaminated effluent discharge". Another favorite parable is that "The production of 1 fast food franchise hamburger requires enough water to float a battleship". He understands the mechanics of big business but isn't lured by it's siren call. "I'm just a normal person trying to live right, have some fun and to do work that has some meaning", he states, "I'm into energy conservation. When you have large amounts of money to manage, the money ends up managing you. I try and keep it all simple and honest which saves both time and energy. I feel that my subjects are people who strive to make a difference so I owe them and my audience my best. I refuse to shoot extraneous shots. A successful proof sheet for me is one which has 36 separate quality meaningful moments on it. 36 pictures out of 36 frames, that's what I am after. On Madison Avenue the advertising art directors want tons of fluff so I just avoid dealing with them and instead concentrate on subject which have consequence for me personally. Photography is about timing and if you can't get it right in a thousandth of a second then you're never going to get it right".

Truth and beauty reside where ever one is lucky enough to find them. Glen E. Friedman works overtime attempting to ferret them out and present their essential characteristics in a manner that others can learn from. This man's mission is to distill it all down and to then serve it straight up and right at you.

SUPER-X magazine

(6 full pages with G.E.F portrait and photos from book throughout)