Thursday, April 13, 2017

Conscientious Photo Magazine

Jörg M. Colberg is a pretty erudite guy, with some good ideas. I don't agree with everything he writes, but he's one of the few people out there who's really wrestling with the problems of photography in the here-and-now. I am going to quote a couple choice bits from the most recent piece:

Here is an aspect of photography that we possibly need to re-explore, the cult of the gem photo, where a project can only contain very good pictures. As Rydet shows, there are other ways. Maybe the fact that she was not producing work for the heavily commercialized gallery market worked in her favour of opening up her mind to seeing the — pardon the pun — bigger picture more than the individual gem. This is not to say that these photographs aren’t good. They are. Some of them are amazing. They all are poignant in the kind of innocence sense that has a hard time surviving in market dominated environment we now live in.

And then a bit later this:

Unlike Rydet, Herzog has made it into the history already in those ways that our somewhat hype obsessed culture deals with those things: instead of changing the history, the addition is framed around the newly member’s exclusion, which is then written about gushingly ad infinitum (the most spectacular example of that, of course, is Vivian Maier). At the same time, the new addition is squeezed into the same-old Procrustean bed that has served us so poorly in the first place.

And finally, on the subject of (as I understand it) how we understand new photographers, how we perform criticism, how we view photography:

[...] sometimes you need to step back from what you have, have a hard look at what is in front of you, and then think about whether disassembling and re-assembling might not be a better approach. That way, those newly added don’t merely become supporting beams of what we all take for granted. If you think about it, this approach actually diminishes the newcomers’ achievements considerably. In addition, the problems with the current add-on approach becomes vastly bigger once we’re dealing with artists outside of the larger context of Western culture, for whom the likes of Walker Evans or William Eggleston often are simply completely useless reference points.

To which I respond preach it, brother! and also I'm right over here, nibbling away on it..

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