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".