Blood on the Church Hall Floor
For Paul Mueller, photography is an exercise in receptivity and storytelling. Some of his work focuses on human activity and how, when captured by the camera, that activity can both describe and imply meaning and narrative. Mueller investigates social behavior and interactions through the photographic image. In this work he owes a great debt to the documentary tradition; however, his loyalty is less to truth telling than to offering meaningful possibilities.
Blood on the Church Hall Floor, which describes the world of amateur wrestling, is perhaps the most truly documentary of Mueller’s current projects. While making this work, he was drawn to the challenge of maintaining integrity in form and composition in a fast moving and chaotic space while, at the same time, constructing humorous and good-natured reflections. In both photography and wrestling one cannot always believe what one sees. The pictures in Blood on the Church Hall Floor draw together the spectacle, the artifice, and the various social dramas taking place in and out of the ring. For this project Mueller made digital images in such a way as to reference grainy film in order to compliment the urgency and low-budget nature of the events.
Paul Mueller received a BFA in photography from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1998 and an MFA in photography from Stanford University in 2001. He is a full-time faculty member in photography at Ohlone College in Fremont, CA. Mueller’s work has been exhibited in the Bay Area and elsewhere, and he recently received a 2nd place prize for his book Surgery in the show Picturing Home at Emory University in Atlanta. Another of his books, New Pictures from East Europe: Ukraine / Latvia Summer 2001, co-authored with Jason Francisco, is in the Special Collections at Stanford University.