PhotoSummer: Artist's Statement

Rocky McCorkle

You and Me on a Sunny Day

Photographer Rocky McCorkle created the narrative and directed the photographs in the first ever “walk-through movie” with 88-year-old Gilda, “You and Me on a Sunny Day.” McCorkle’s series of 135 photographs is conceived as a silent film in the form of a sequence of stills. Gilda Todar’s (1927—2017) colorful life is revealed in photographs that share her memories. McCorkle has unrolled traditional cinema and extended it into the three-dimensional physical space. It is comprised of larger-than-life photographs that are displayed in chronological order on several connecting walls. For the movie to be watched, viewers shift from image to image, living movement brings the stills to life. Each viewer will see Gilda’s story unfold at their own pace, creating a visitor-flow and emotional experience like no other. Every Sunday evening for 5 years, McCorkle brought downstairs neighbor Gilda up for a photo shoot on a set that he had spent all week lighting, propping, and composing. It took an hour to make one image, and the next week they did it all over again—a process slower than clay animation. The interior shots were made in the artist’s Tenderloin apartment in San Francisco, which he transformed into a complex mise-en- scène for the storyboarded narrative. The protagonist in her own life story, the photographs tell the story of Gilda remembering, and at times dreaming about, her late husband Jack. Peering at her through the camera lens and surrounded by objects from her life, photographer and director McCorkle reveals the emotional complexity, both internal and external, that time, joy, love, struggle, death, loneliness and depth of feeling bring to a life well lived. Gilda was born in San Mateo in 1927 and waited her entire life to be an actress on the big screen. This was her first and last starring role.