Sunday, 21 June 2009

Weddings and Sunsets

There was a good deal of critical commentary towards the millennium around the idea of 'beauty' spurred on, in part, by the crisis in confidence in the then rapidly diminishing returns from the YBA and subsequent generations mining the legacies of Marcel Duchamp.  Quite how the discussions, often centred around the margins of post structuralist philosophy (and particularly focussed on post feminist texts, entirely misappropriated), turned out I am not at all sure.  Part of this is down to my dwindling interest in keeping up with the current chatter in the art mags and part - I suspect - to a confusion about exactly what contemporary art activity can be as we dig into the century for real.

The place of photography in all this is even more vexing - I have written before about the barely contained horror of one or two of my fellow students as regards sunsets! - where the cliche is hard to avoid if one moves into certain subject areas.  But why can't we consider weddings or sunsets as suitable subjects for 'art photography'? Are they simply to be excluded because of their ubiquity and staus as 'known' material - after all Avedon, for just one example, mined the frontal, b&w, portrait to the point of exhaustion - Tom Cooper and Sugimoto the oceans and so on and on.

These thoughts occurred to me as I shot endless frames from a friend's terrace recently and cropped up again when I took snaps at her son's wedding - along with everyone else naturally.  At least its a change of pace and problematics from the MA for a few weeks!  In The Inhuman by Jean-Francois Lyotard there's a quote that resonates with me - "The pleasure procured by the beautiful is not the object of research, it happens or it doesn't".

Monday, 8 June 2009

Calming Down A Tad

Following on from the semester just passed I began, last week, to start agonizing over the 'major' project for the year ahead,  I bored my friend Simon with my crazy ramblings about whether it should be this or that whilst we were 'taking the air' and started to get quite het up about it.

Over the last day or so I have tried to calm down a little and take a step back.  Whilst it's true that given that it's a year from now when whatever it is will have been submitted - and that therefore if you want an image taken in May/June then it has to have been now - maybe that isn't an absolute in terms of a good idea for a project anyway.  So I'm taking a week or two off and intend just taking some pictures for enjoyments sake.  The stripped bark of the tree above caught my attention and gave me an excuse to take the picture here.  Sometimes a simple visual moment is enough.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Out And about

A trip down to London - primarily to see Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart on their take of 'Waiting For Godot' - gave the chance to think about photography and what it really means as an artform.  Outside of any immediate concerns with the MA and away from my own practice, it's easier to reflect on what the medium really has to offer.
An early stop at the Haunch Of Venison gave an opportunity to view the latest work from Thomas Joshua Cooper.  I have been a long time admirer of his landscapes, and am the proud owner of both "Dreaming The Gokstadt' and 'Some Rivers, Some Trees, Some Rocks, Some Seas'.  On this occasion though I was a little more quizzical about the work.  Not least because the images have been blown up in scale and for me at least lose some mystery as a result.  They also, dare one say it? and does it matter? looked a little old fashioned - or maybe I simply mean had less to say to us nowadays?  I am also troubled, presently, by the issue of colour.   By chance I happened upon some recent colour prints by Dan Gustav Cramer in the excellent Maddox Gallery show 'Terra Nihilus' that were in my mind far more satisfactory landscape works.  A case for more reflection on my part I think.

In another place - Hauser & Wirth - David Claerbout was showing three new video works.  One of my fellow students is a Claerbout fan - as am I - and these latest works did not disappoint.  One in particular, up in the top of the building - in the room it was made - entitled The American Room (1st movement) was a marvellous piece of work with so much to say about  time and place and photography as a medium and its relationship to film.  It had a powerful poetic quality that is impossible to describe - a must see in my judgment!