"Today what surrounds the individual life can change more quickly than the brief sequences of that life itself. The timeless has been abolished, and history itself has become ephemerality. History no longer pays its respects to the dead: the dead are simply what is has passed through. (…) There is no longer any generally acknowledged value longer than that of a life, and most are shorter. The worldwide phenomenon of inflation is symptomatic in this respect: an unprecedented modern form of economic transience.
Consequently the uncommon experience of those moments which defy time is now denied by everything which surrounds them. Such moments have ceased to be like windows looking across history towards the timeless. Experiences which prompt the term for ever have now to be assumed alone and privately. Their role has been changed: instead of transcending, they isolate. The period in which photography has developed corresponds to the period in which this uniquely modern anguish has become commonplace.
Yet fortunately people are never only the passive objects of history. And apart from popular heroism, there is also popular ingenuity. In this case such ingenuity uses whatever little there is at hand, to preserve experience, to re-create an area of “timelessness”, to insist upon the permanent. And so, hundreds of millions of photographs, fragile images, often carried next to the heart or placed by the side of the bed, are used to refer to that which historical time has no right to destroy.
The private photograph is treated and valued today as if it were the materialisation of that glimpse through the window which looked across history towards that which was outside time.”
— John Berger “Appearances” in Another Way of Telling (1984)
@2 weeks ago with 34 notes
#Art #History #Imagination #Time #John Berger #Photography #Criticism #Theory #Jan Mohr
@1 month ago with 294 notes
#Art #Photography #William Eggleston #Criticism #Carlo McCormick #Aperture magazine #Inspiration
"Loving Eggleston—as easy for some of us as falling off a bar stool—seems to be about embracing his affections, which are shamelessly many and remarkably appreciative of how things are rather than how they could or should be. A man who has photographed most anything anywhere, he offers a stunning clarity that, though redolent of the romantic, is incapable of sentimentality. His work speaks to a humanist faith (though with the heart of a true atheist), and levels an abiding sense of understanding toward his subjects—and a refusal ever to know better than they do. Steeped in bourbon and nicotine, his photographs careen through the commonplace with the heat of a no-holds-barred bender and the cold sweat of an unholy hangover. You don’t just end up enthralled by what this man has seen, but are mesmerized by the way he sees things, how unspoken quotients of insanity, desperation, mortality, and abandonment suffuse the mundane and are then in turn diffused by a glorious sense of wonder.”
— Carlo McCormick on “William Eggleston: Democractic Camera” in Aperture, Summer 2009.
"An acclaimed artist of the same generation as Polke recently remarked to me that Polke was ‘too creative’: there wasn’t enough concentration in his ideas or constraint in his materials to produce a logic that sustained the work over time – in short, he had too many ‘alibis’. But it might also be that his prime devices, parody and pastiche (devices that are often associated with postmodernist art of which he is an important progenitor), refuse precisely these expectations of stylistic consistency and subjective stability, and that the very point of his practice was to resist art-historical inscription and social recuperation: to show, as Benjamin Buchloh puts it in the catalogue, that any secure selfhood ‘rested on some type of oblivion or disavowal’. Yet there is a touch of the adolescent avant-garde-of-one in this position, and isn’t advanced capitalist life an effective enough auto-da-fé of the subject in its own right?"
@1 month ago with 19 notes
#Art #Criticism #Sigmar Polke #Hal Foster #London Review of Books
The Art Book Review: Why Art Photography? by Lucy Soutter
@1 month ago with 28 notes
#Art #Photography #Lucy Soutter #Sarah Bay Willliams #Criticism
A worthwhile read on a recent survey book about the perennially problematic nature of art photography, by Sarah Bay Williams:
Why Art Photography? does not ask if the photograph is worthy of the museum or academy—that battle has been fought elsewhere—nor does Lucy Soutter, the book’s author, rewrite the treatise on how the medium has fared in an art-after-representation, post-Conceptual world.* Soutter thinks…