As most of you do - I also like to keep up to date on things going on with Photography. All sides and aspects of it. Even if I do not participate in one genre or another. Even if my preferences are completely opposed to a particular style, or material, or technique, I have a healthy respect for things that are not my cup of tea and have a genuine interest in keeping up with what is going on - photographically. The only way to do that is that I have to keep an open mind and give things a chance even if my first reaction is one of dismissal. Every once in a while my initial reaction is absolutely wrong, most of the time it is right. That is the price you pay in time and psychological aggravation to allow yourself to be open to new things and to continue learning in the great journey of life.
Okay - so why the not so open minded title. Well I take in so much crap in my desire for knowledge and understanding that every once in a while I really have to vent a little tiny bit of hatefulness. Take it as my little edutainment segment. So here is my hate list of the week.
I hate pretentiousness in art - be it naive pretentiousness, be it subconscious pretentiousness, be it not well thought out random pretentiousness. I really don't care if it is accidental and unintended or on purpose. I hate it with a passion. Unfortunately I love art - especially really really great photographic art. To get to that you really have to put up with a lot of nonsense. I kind of poked a little fun at this kind of thing a while back in my fine art photography lesson. I hope I didn't give the impression that I do not have deep respect for photographic artists - I do. To put a project together and really do something worthwhile takes a lot of work. Maybe a lifetime of work. It usually is apparent, even if you don't like the work - the work part is pretty apparent and stands on it's own merits.
On behalf those out there that have put in the work and those that are putting in the work I have to be insulted when I run across "artists" selling their prints on-line where there is no evidence whatsoever of "the work". Example, I listen to a lot of interviews with photographers. While I am listening I like to flip through the "work" they are talking about. Art photographers call pictures "work", that's okay it can be a lot of work - except when it's not. In a particular interview I was listening to this week, I fired up the ole web browser and started to look through the artist's "body of work" for not one but a couple separate Â "bodies of work" as the interview was going on in the background.
These "bodies of work" were called something like "so and so and so I" and "so and so and so II". Here is what we got - a dozen or so really really blurry square black and white dark pictures all titled "untitled" of random shit laying around the living room, dining room, bedroom, and kitchen of the same house - most likely on the same day - even more likely on the same roll of film. The "so and so and so II" Â "body of work" was probably the same day on a different roll of film. Wait - here is the punch line - they also all had the title of untitled - and both "bodies of work" not only where the pictures titled untitled - here it comes - every single one of them, every single one had a title of "untitled (xxxxxxxxx)" where the xxxxxxxx part was like knife, remote, shelf paper. The icing on the cake was the audio interview explaining that the "work" represented a very very dark place in the artists life, lots of banter and allusion to drag the dark place on and on so the interviewer could drag the emotion out - this work represents the dark place that was going on during the long agonizing "death of a loved father". This is also in the "artists statement". Not a big secret.
Honestly I don't know if any of the words are even true but it doesn't really matter. If you need to be explicit in that kind of thing to generate some sort of emotional whatever that is pretentious - really. I could not careless if this artist sells prints or not. I do take it as an affront to all of the really really hard work put in by countless photographic artists throughout history - not to sell prints - but to make art. The outrageous arrogance that this "artist" has in believing that a roll of film or two through his/her new toy Holga qualifies as "fine art" because it looked cool is absolutely stunning. Hey look how cool the remote control looks when it is blurry - it's art - now it's for sale.
More hate next week.
Ps. Feel free to agree/disagree or whatever - Please do not take this as I think there is no really good photographic art made with less than outstanding sharpness - take a look at Keith Carter or someone like that. My issue is that it is a shame for people like KC et al that any yo-yo that picks up a camera that makes blurry pictures of untitled (shelf paper) is in the same league and is at all representative of the "work"