Graham begins his discussion with a quote from Jeff Wall:
This month I read a review in a leading US Art Magazine of a Jeff Wall survey book, praising how he had distinguished himself from previous art photography by:
“Carefully constructing his pictures as provocative often open ended vignettes, instead of just snapping his surroundings”
Graham goes on to say how photographer should be insulted by this. I hear what he is saying but I also understand Wall's position after seeing countless portfolios of photographers who are really just snapping their surroundings and not thinking much of it. These shooters are nostalgic for an era that, in my book, never really existed. Graham sites photographers Walker Evans to Robert Frank, Diane Arbus to Garry Winogrand, to Stephen Shore in a category of photographers that are less appreciated then photographers like Jeff Wall, or Cindy Sherman or James Casebere or Thomas Demand. While I understand where he is going I feel like the photographers he sites as under-appreciated are actually very appreciated but they are from an older generation of photographers.
We have seen their work and new photographers that want their work appreciated as are have to go beyond what these photographer have made and push the medium further. This is funny because I think thats what the new generation of photographers like Paul Graham are doing. I'm thinking about Alec Soth, Larry Clark, Taryn Simon, Sze Tsung Leong as well as Paul Graham and many others. Sure, they are shooting some sort of 'document' of what is in front of the camera but they are arranging them into a poetry all their own. A poetry that speaks in a current dialogue.
An interesting example of how this type of work fits into the art world right now can be seen at the Guggenheim Museum in a newly opened show Haunted: Contemporary Photography/Video/Performance. Even at the Guggenheim there are photographers who are operating in a "snapping their surroundings" method like An-My Le, Sally Mann and Hiroshi Sugimoto.
A lot of bloggers have been talking and quoting from this essay:
Conscientious: "hyperbolic, overblown, risible"
la pura vida: OpEd: The Beautiful Burden
Conscientious: "Continuing the debate about photography"
Adam Bell: The Unreasonable Apple
Touching Harms the Art by Luke Strosnider: Paul Graham – The Unreasonable Apple
We can shoot too: "Quote of the Week - Paul Graham"
In a related post Franklin Einspruch talk about the broader ideas of conceptual art vs ideas of beauty. Its worth a read and fits into this conversation. Artblog.net: "Conceptualism for Sale: How the Art World Uses Low Standards for Fun and Profit."
Join in tonight at 9 pm EST.
We'll discuss Graham's essay and how or if 'documentary' photography fits / doesn't fit into the art paradigm.
These Art Photography Twitter Chats anyone can join in or just read it live by using the hashtag #photoartchat on Twitter. One easier way to transform twitter into a chat room is Tweetchat.com and entering the photoartchat room here: http://tweetchat.com/room/photoartchat.