Let's end this year on a nostalgic note, with Richard Nicholson's Last One Out, a typology of the few remaining professional darkrooms in London.
Sean O'Hagan points out on The Guardian that "perhaps the world is simply too fast-forward now for the craft and the clutter – the roll of film, the negative, the chemicals, the contact sheet – of old-fashioned photographic printing. Perhaps, too, the darkroom and photographic film will go the way of the analogue recording studio, the cassette player and the vinyl record and become beloved by a relatively small group of obsessives".
Other examples of photographic obituaries of the analog art are Michel Campeau's Darkroom and Robert Burley's The disappearance of Darkness.
It's something that has been said many times over the last years, and maybe this is already happening, analog printing is already a niche, small but somehow healthy: it's not a big business, not a widespread profession, but something where craft, meditation, fun or whatever else somebody might feel inside when, full of excitement, turns off the light in a basement and start messing around with easels and trays.
I've always had mixed feelings for elegiac photoworks about the diappearance of analog photography, I think that the beauty of it is in its results and there is not much that can come out by turning it into a vintage visual object in itself.
Now it's all computers everybody says, and maybe one difference with the darkroom is that those analog tools from back then made sense only when able hands could take something out of them, while today's devices and techniques often seem to turn into instant cult objects or fetishes, no matter what the real use or outcome that can be achieved with them.
On this topic, I suggest to read my interview with b&w fine art printer Jim Megargee.
So, paradoxically we celebrate objects from a supposed distant era as lost glories, but today's objects are probably even bigger fetishes, and are constantly replaced by new ones. Objects are losing endurance these days, and a technological device doesn't seem to age with the grace of something made of steel and springs.
So I guess a new year's resolution could be stopping mourning about analog photography, and maybe start looking in what it is actually becoming. Rather than another sad story about how all is getting digital and cold, I'd rather hear about how some people happily keep using the darkroom, what they get from it, why they keep doing it, and so forth.
I'll be happy to receive darkroom stories by all of you out there.
Happy 2011 to everybody!
UPDATE: as soon as I've put this post online, I've found a story on the New York Times that I thought I should include: For Kodachrome Fans, Road Ends at Photo Lab in Kansas.
All images taken from Last One Out © Richard Nicholson
Thursday, December 30, 2010
Monday, December 20, 2010
For many, the role of photography in building the great book of history is still to produce icons of our time, images that can sum up the essence of a moment - defining pictures. We need to see the events in the photographs, we need to receive them like a gift from the photographer. History often cannot afford ambiguity, lack of clarity, or worse lack of force in a photograph: hence strong subjects, strong moments, strong composition. Drama, intensity and a clear message are the usual requirements for the narration of real life, the same ones needed for a good popular fictional story, after all. Moviemakers often fear silence, as it might make them lose the attention of the viewers - they need to be entertained, after all.
The war in Iraq is of course one of the major photographic dramas of the last decade, and we’ve seen it covered in all fashions: soldiers shooting, women in desperation, children crying, towers of smoke, humvees cruising the desert.
What remains unclear in all this is the role of the viewer: are we meant to be entertained, informed, shocked? Are we considered as just passive receivers of pre-packaged content or is there some space to feel something through those photographs, to imagine what goes beyond (or lies behind) the things we are shown?
Dear Knights and Dark Horses, the latest book by Thomas Roma, attempts to address that question in a somehow radical way: the photographs are divided in two sections, the first showing a sequence of old coin-operated horse rides in the streets of New York, while the second presents a series of portraits of US Army Reserve soldiers about to be deployed to Iraq. Rather than raising awareness through showing strong content, Roma asks the viewer to fill the empty space between these two worlds, the old-fashioned and now neglected kids’ entertainment and his subdued portraits of militaries, stripped of both any heroic appearance or dramatic setting.
Even if the association of these two opposite worlds leaves space for a rather obvious metaphoric effect, Roma still manages to create an interesting visual experience, with a photographic language reduced to the essential, a sober black and white supported by a very simple framing. The coin horses are almost merely recorded, collected from the streets into images who seem as casual as the occasional distracted glances these forgotten toys now get from passers-by; the soldiers photographs look like placid snapshots, straight portraits of men whose eyes are so difficult to penetrate, almost expressionless and yet full of the weight of a choice we might never fully understand.
The book itself appears like a small delicate object, almost square, with a gentle hardcover and a pretty simple graphic design: reminding the style of children books in its appearance, Dear Knights and Dark Horses calls for the viewer’s imagination and sensibility to re-imagine events we have been hearing over and over, inviting us to listen to a melancholic fairy tale in black and white to rediscover the story of a war we always see so full of colours and sounds that we might have become blind and deaf to it.
Dear Knights and Dark Horses. Photographs by Thomas Roma. Introduction by Alec Wilkinson. powerHouse Books, New York, 2010. 100 pp., 35 duotone illustrations, 6¾x7¾".
Monday, December 13, 2010
"Private mythologies" is the expression used by Mirko Smerdel to describe his work: a visual archive made of memories, of icons of our times, of images layered one on top of the other. Can we ever experience something like an unconditioned vision, or are we always pushed back to what we already saw, to what we remember, to how we decided things have to look like?
Using found photographs, postcards, newspapers and all the other byproducts of our visual past, Smerdel chose to wander accross the many roads of a "mental geography of contemporary life", an atlas of our endless iconic production, which we might never really learn how to read.
(thanks to Andrea Botto)
All images © Mirko Smerdel
Thursday, December 2, 2010
"What happens to a landscape which is intentionally ignored by a large part of the population? Does it still exist?"
A few weeks ago I got in touch with Yaakov Israel and I was immediately fascinated by his investigation of the Israeli landscape and its human geography. I asked him if he wanted to have a conversation about his photography, his country and all that happens when the two come together, and I am happy he agreed to share his thoughts.
Enjoy the read.
FABIO SEVERO: Israel is a territory many photographers would put all their efforts to show it loud and clear in their images, and yet you say you are interested in showing all those small details that usually go unnoticed. What brought you to work in this way?
YAAKOV ISRAEL: My current interest in photography revolves around the idea of using this medium to research and understand the culture and country I live in and which I am constantly trying to analyze and better understand.
I am a firm believer in personal biography and the affect it has on ones interests, work and subject matter. I am 100% Israeli, born and raised in Israel, while on the other hand I am the son of immigrants. My father never really assimilated into the Israeli society and was always observing and pointing out social injustices and Israeli idiosyncrasies. This influenced my way of looking at my surroundings and this is what enables me to simultaneously be part of the Israeli reality and still question it.
As a result of my visual research I have discovered that we have a lot to learn from what we inflict on our surroundings and the way we chose to construct the reality around us. The focusing on details unravels part of a story that could never be told as a whole.
FS: One of your project is called The legitimacy of landscape, but maybe this expression can be extensively used for the totality of your work: to use photography to unveil the fake seamlessness of a landscape, to interrogate its nature and its history, its legitimacy. What does this term really mean to you?
YI: I have always been interested in the land and the way people connect to their land. Thoughts about the traditions and of the meaning of landscape in art and photography, worldwide and locally, occupy me constantly in my work.
For me the question explored in this work was; what happens to a landscape which is intentionally ignored by a large part of the population? Does it still exist?
This lead to a series of queries about physical vs. perceived vs. imaginary existences and it is this legitimacy that I ended up exploring in my work.
In a way each photo created an existence of a place and gave it a fleeting legitimacy even if imaginary.
FS: The Quest for the Man on the White Donkey is described as a wide exploration of your land, in search of a man, of a feeling, of an idea, maybe. A wide search in a small land, you wrote, where any wandering would have brought you back to the starting point, to begin again and look for new images. Is it a survey of a territory or rather the expression of a private geography you found inside yourself?
YI: I started out purely on a mission to survey a territory – Israel. However on the day I crossed paths with the man on the white donkey this journey turned into a personal quest. From then on my external travels reverted inwards and I started to explore myself in relation to my surroundings. I feel that this was a crucial turning point which made me understand that my work does not only document and show reality, but in a way creates a reality.
FS: Among all the photography produced about Israel, what is it that you don't like, and also which are the photographic works that you loved most? Is there any aspect of your country that you feel is not enough explored (or maybe even ignored) by photography?
YI: Personally I find that the main Israeli photographic narrative that makes it out of Israel is the journalistic, political photography. This is obviously important but it portrays only one aspect of Israel and thus helps create a very stereotypical image.
There are many other realities being documented in Israeli photography that are not ignored but simply not exposed. Naturally I find interesting the work of fellow contemporaries who are using photography to question, and not to make statements.
FS: How was your work received domestically as opposed to abroad?
YI: Domestically I have been received well. My work instigated the interest and debates I hoped for. When I have the opportunity to present my work abroad I find that the pre-conceptions regarding Israel must first be broken down and in a way my work is what helps do this. I find that the interest in Israel is always strong and that my work provides them with new insight.
FS: You use a 8x10 camera for your projects. Why did you choose this kind of camera?
YI: When I started out in photography I was fascinated with the ability of the medium to render and capture an accurate piece of reality and it was this power that I wanted to use. As I progressed and started to find 'my way' in photography I understood that I wanted to use photography to create a discussion about reality, and the way in which I wanted to show things was just as important as what I had to say and point out. This is why I chose to use the most descriptive tools available and why I mainly use an 8x10, as it promises me the hyper realistic results which I need in order to show details more sharply than would be possible to observe with the naked eye.
Yaakov Israel, A Repressed Landscape, The Open Museum of Photography at Tel-Hai Industrial Park, July 2005
All images © Yaakov Israel
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Simone Bergantini, American Standard (Remix), 2010.
"This work was carried out re-elaborating a group of 4x5 inch negatives bought in a second hand shop in Brooklyn. They were taken between the end of the fifties and the beginning of the sixties very probably by the same person within an area which is relatively near New York City.
I lived in the United States for 5 months and I decided to talk about what struck me most about the American people, consumerism and its consequent individualism. Use and throw away, no stratifying, always starting from scratch."
"Well, it was a big country, there was some of it for everyone. There were women, there was land, there was money. But nobody had enough, nobody stopped no matter how much he had, and the fields, even the vineyards, looked like public gardens, fake flower beds like those at railway stations, or else wilderness, burned-over land, mountains of slag. It wasn't a country where you could resign yourself, rest your head and say to others: 'For better or worse, you know me. For better or worse, let me live.' That was the frightening part."
(Cesare Pavese, The Moon and the Bonfires)
"Questo lavoro è stato realizzato remissando un gruppo di negativi 4x5 (inch) acquistati in un negozio di oggetti usati di Brooklyn, scattati tra la fine degli anni 50 e l’inizio degli anni 60 ed eseguiti con molta probabilità dalla stessa mano in un' area relativamente vicina alla città di New York.
Ho vissuto 5 mesi negli Stati Uniti e ho deciso di raccontare ciò che più mi ha colpito del popolo americano, il consumismo e l'individualismo conseguente. Usare e gettare, non stratificare, ri-azzerare il passato."
"Eppure il paese era grande, ce n’era per tutti. C’erano donne, c’era terra, c’era denari. Ma nessuno ne aveva abbastanza, nessuno per quanto ne avesse si fermava, e le campagne, anche le vigne, sembravano giardini pubblici, aiuole finte come quelle delle stazioni, oppure incolti, terre bruciate, montagne di ferraccio. Non era un paese che uno potesse rassegnarsi, posare la testa e dire agli altri: “Per male che vada mi conoscete. Per male che vada lasciatemi vivere”. Era questo che faceva paura."
(Cesare Pavese, La luna e i falò)
All images © Simone Bergantini
Monday, November 15, 2010
The beach where we spent all our childhood, the valley where we dream to run free, the landscape we wish we could stare, the mountain we maybe hiked years ago, the creek we dream we could paint, the village of many boring summers, the seascape we wish we would have photographed ourselves.
Paolo Bernabini, Cahier de Voyage.
La spiaggia dove abbiamo passato tutta l'infanzia, la vallata dove avremmo potuto correre liberi, il paesaggio che vorremmo guardare, la montagna che forse abbiamo scalato anni fa, il ruscello che vorremmo dipingere, la piazzetta di tante noiose estati, il mare che avremmo voluto fotografare.
Paolo Bernabini, Cahier de Voyage.
All images © Paolo Bernabini
Thursday, November 11, 2010
rough study for a double portrait, 2009
Photography can be considered as the mere surface on which Lucas Blalock finally creates his own images: I would not write more than that to introduce his work, also because his latest book, I Believe You, Liar, is introduced by a letter that is perhaps impossible to match with any other word:
"Dear Ms. Patty Pacifica or Current Resident,
I like to think of cooing. it is among the warmer thoughts. especially nice in French which seems a warmer language except when it’s not. Isn’t it funny how cold warm things used badly become. I would accept your TV if you had it, but seem truly and earnestly (to my own embarrassment) more interested in truth than fact and all that uninterrupted information would bring us back to the palimpsest (a screen) and a possible becoming tedious because the volume controls of strangers – even friends and lovers – are always different from the ones internal. It’s probably better if I listen to your speakers instead of getting greedy for headphones, or serialized programming.
As to. . . all of this is more lonely than sad but I am starting to relish this energy of impossible languages and unbridgeable gaps. The failures are all we have and I am no nihilist! I BELIEVE YOU, LIAR!! Light, sad? ‘luc’ is particle and wave both at the same time. I am torn. can you explain?
Thank you kindly,
Lucas Blalock"untitled (boxes), 2010
All images © Lucas Blalock
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
As many of you probably already know, Conditions is the first book by Andrés Marroquin Winkelmann, and it also marks the debut of Meier und Müller (there's only a few copies left of the book, find info here), the publishing house Andrés has recently founded with Jörg M Colberg.
Having in mind to start a blog section devoted to illustrate the art of book-making, a few weeks ago I asked Andrés to write a text about the genesis of Conditions, which is the first of a series of contributions on the process of creating a photobook that will come in the following months.
I could have written myself a review of the book, but I had the feeling that a chronicle of all the thoughts, ideas, intuitions and mistakes it takes to finally bring a photographic volume to light would have been somehow more interesting than my two cents on the project.
Conditions is a special object, a concept trying to change a few things in the way we can interact with a photobook; it is also a delicate story, made of moments and feelings so thin it takes nothing to sweep them away. That's why maybe its fragile images are concealed behind the firm black gate that closes the book in itself. I'll let Andrés himself open it to show us what's inside.
CONDITIONS, by Andrés Marroquin Winkelmann
The first time Conditions was presented as a book to a wider audience was at the Ostkreuz School graduation exhibition in Berlin in late 2008. The design was simple: the images were printed in two sizes and presented in a rather straightforward fashion. For this first version of the book, I primarily focused on the rhythm and sequencing of the images in order to create a consistent personal narrative, which, I felt, worked OK.
In general, finding the suitable presentation of a body of work takes a long time. I always try several variations, with different papers, frames, sizes, to finally decide how to arrange photographs on the wall. With time, I’ve learned how to deal with this as a whole, so that the main idea of the project is reflected in its presentation, be it as book or in a show. I still remember how weeks after my graduate show I was re-designing the book. There was something that simply was not right, yet.
The conjuncture took place about a year ago. My ideas about books were changing, and I realized I had many books which I would only come back to once or maybe twice after buying them. There were only a few books that really drew me in deeply, and they were still exciting every time I looked at them. Even though there are many books with very strong contents, I had the feeling that often the book format wasn’t being used right. The photobook market has grown so rapidly over the past few years that it seems that often, just having a book out seems to be what matters for photographers. The production of a book is nowadays so straightforward that many photographers replace their portfolio with a book. However, I think that the purpose of producing a book should not be convenience. There are actually only very few publishers who really try to work hand in hand with the photographers to produce books that fit the work.
I met Jörg (Colberg) for the first time about five years ago at ICP in New York City. We met almost every time I came back to the States after that, and we slowly we realized we had more in common than just our taste in music. We became friends, and we happened to understand each other not only on a “photography” level but also on a personal one. He has been my “partner in crime” ever since. Our ideas about photobook making are very similar; and after checking whether we really were in the same boat, we decided to found Meier und Müller.
In the beginning, I wasn’t so sure about making Conditions the first book of our publishing project. But Jörg pushed me to redesign the book to reveal the ideas behind the series. Without telling me what to do, he helped me understand the connection between form and contents - all of the sudden, everything was crystal clear.
The earliest designs I tried were very gimmicky. I did not want the book (or the series) being carried by the design, I did not want the design to be just a trick to make the work interesting. After some tests, and after having looked at older dummies I decided to experiment with the parameters of the book format, pushing the boundaries. I started to center on ideas concerning self-determination, the decisions we made, still make, and those we did not dare to make.
Investigating identity is the main idea behind the project. The way Conditions in the end was conceived as a book allows the viewer to question and study her or his own identity in a very natural way. The book itself help the viewer to deal with perceptions, with how we look at people and how we would like to look at them.
After months of intensive (and to be honest, often very painful) work Conditions was born. I went to New York to meet Adam Bartos, who shared with us his experience and vision and who also took care of the editing.
The book has been out for two months now, and the editions are almost sold out. The press has been very positive, and we are very happy about that. Currently, Jörg and myself are working on upcoming projects, and we couldn’t be more motivated to push this venture into the next level. Making photobooks is a lot of work, it’s hard, but when everything finally comes together, it’s just a thrill that’s very hard to describe.
All images © Andrés Marroquin Winkelmann/Meier und Müller
Monday, November 8, 2010
Pardon me for the lack of fantasy, but when I see images of eerie landscapes, scary corners of grim huts, rusty sharp tools and figures standing sinisterly with their faces aginst the wall, I can think of only one expression to sum it all: blair witchy.
Welcome to Grant Willing's world, you might not want to explore it at night, alone.
Perdonatemi la mancanza di fantasia, ma quando vedo paesaggi stregati, angoli bui di strane baracche o personaggi sinistramente rivolti con la faccia al muro, mi viene in mente una sola immagine in grado di descrivere quello che vedo: blair witch.
Benevenuti nel mondo di Grant Willing, fareste bene a starne alla larga quando fa notte, e siete soli.
All images taken from Svart Metall © Grant Willing
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
To me photo courses have always been parallel worlds where people could reinvent their destiny, their ambitions, their dreams, even if just for a few days or weeks. Nobody can deny the beauty of an industrious bunch of people operating photogear in search of the perfect shot, while some others are scratching their chins with a pensive look in their eyes, striving to find the perfect combination of sense and sensibility. Not to mention the collective protfolio viewings, where each of the photophiles shares the fruit of their labour with the rest of the group, in a solemn atmosphere punctuated by extremely serious and deep comments, pronounced with a delicate voice, like in a ceremony.
The photo course is one of those places where the outside world can disappear, a bubble out of our ordinary time, a reign for the imagination, where creativity feels close and the burden of practical life finally stops haunting us for a day, a week, a year.
With his work The Photo Course, Martin Cregg explores the empty spaces of his classes of History and Theory of Photography, taking photographs of what he calls "post-lecture environments". I love the expression, it makes me wonder if the thoughts expressed can leave traces in the room where they have been pronounced, or if the air can carry signs of the struggle of the students' minds to grasp those floating concepts.
If you wonder why I ask myself this kind of questions, well the answer is mostly here.
All images © Martin Cregg
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Self-publishing is an expanding phenomenon in the world of photography. The current year has seen a remarkable spreading of activities in the field, with new publishing houses, festivals, workshops and new online platforms opening very fast. I felt it was time to try to examine some of the issues related with self-publishing and photography, and thought that a good start could have been a conversation with Yannick Bouillis, creator of the upcoming Offprint event, "a project space for contemporary photography and a book fair for independent publishers".
Offprint will be from November 18 to November 21, 2010, at Espace Kiron, 10 rue de la Vacquerie, 75011 Paris, France.
Enjoy the read.
FABIO SEVERO: What is the genesis of the Offprint project?
YANNICK BOUILLIS: Strangely, I don’t remember the genesis of Offprint... One morning I got up and realised that the day before I had started Offprint. No hangover, no psychological disorders, so I had to conclude I did it for a good reason, but which one I can’t tell: I just don’t remember.
One of the contextual reasons is that at the time I was trying to determine which is the best scene for photography, crossing out multiple criteria and factors (documentary photography / fashion photography / non documentary photography / graphic design scene / best schools / best museums / best magazines... etc).
While trying to set a hierarchy, I also realised I had a nice list of publishing companies, a sort of "best publishers’ list" in the world - and thought I could do a fair showing what they do.
Uta Eisenreich, Wonderyears, 2008
FS: Self-publishing in photograpy seems to have grown exponentially during the last year, or maybe it is the visibility of several activities in this field that gained an increased reception. What do you think really happened?
YB: You are right that it is difficult to know if self publishing has really increased over the last few years or it was just his visibility (speed of information is impressive since the Internet) but fulfilling a prophecy is always a good concept to explain reality: the more you see things being published, the more you believe it is the reality of photography, the more you want to join - the more you join!
Photobooks have always been around in photography, like Martin Parr and Gerry Badger have shown - one of the reasons being probably the historical lack of institutions to show photo works: photography museums are something very recent - and still rare. In a way, photobooks have always played a substitute to the lack of spaces for photography - and photobooks keep being the best exhibition photographers can get. Or at least, one very much complementary with museum spaces.
If you compare the situation with the artist books scene, you definitely see the publication as this substitute to exhibitions: it is nowadays almost impossible for artists to show their works the way they would want to show them in a museum. They have to deal systematically with the Contemporary Art curatorial obsession to replace your work into a theory, a trend, a school, their own view on your works... But few artists can claim to see their work shown in his full integrity and meaning in an art space nowadays. Artist books are probably for artists a way to keep the meaning of their work intact – and the same happens in photography, too: photobooks show the work of photographers. This happens in contemporary art because of the theoretical obsession, but in photography it is just because of the historical lack of museums spaces. Even the relationship between curators and photographers is pretty sane compared to the one in the contemporary art field.
Hans Gremmen, Jaap Scheeren, Fake Flowers, 2008
FS: How do you think mainstream or widely diffused publishing houses are reacting to this? Is there any kind of interaction between the independent world and the large scale editorial projects?
YB: When people will have enough of the self publishing trend (rough, badly printed, using a 2 colors printing system, risograph etc...which I love like the hell), they will get back to more established publishing houses with beautifully printed books....if everyone keeps doing the self publishing stuff, within 2 years, classical publishing houses will be super hot!
FS: Which are the main tendencies in the self publishing world today? Is it mostly focused on experimenting on book designing or do you also see new tendencies in the photographic languages, styles and subject matters developed in the books?
YB: I don’t see any new tendencies in the photographic languages that can be specifically linked to the self-publishing scene.
As a general trend, non documentary photography is getting very strong of course (Germany, The Netherlands, USA), but I would say that the self-publishing scene is more experimenting the link between "publication" and "photography", than leading a formal investigation in the photographic language. I am even sometimes very disappointed by some works - but not by the publications that feature them. I have seen enough great photobooks published by average photographers to be sure of that. In that sense, the contemporary dialogue between photography and publishing process that you are mentioning, well in the self publishing scene it is probably more about the emergence of a new person (or at least, the acknowledgement of this figure), and that is the graphic designer, than something really, formally new. In the role of "confident", publishers tend to be replaced by graphic designers. That's why Offprint is not only for photographers but also for graphic designers: I really believe in their fructuous collaboration. Besides the technical aspects of Offprint - organising a fair - it is also a statement that I want to make.
Jaap Scheeren, 3 Roses, 9 Ravens, 12 Months, 2009
FS: You’re also behind Shashin Books.
YB: Shashin is a bookshop for Dutch publications (art, graphic design, photography...). In November 2010, we have Offprint. Next year a contemporary art book fair in Amsterdam (2011). And the year after, a mix of galleries / publishers / project spaces.
FS: What made you choose to set up Offprint in Paris during the same days of Paris Photo? Is it just a matter of convenience to draw that audience to your fair or is it also a way to send a message to the established photographic world?
YB: Without Paris photo, Offprint would not be possible. Year after year they have been able to make Paris one of the photo event of the year - Paris Photo is crowded and it is my responsibility to make Offprint crowded for the publishers who have accepted to join. Paris Photo is priceless in that sense.
Contentwise, Paris Photo is what it is, very much average. This is also an interesting issue for photography: while leading Contemporary Art fairs like Art Basel, Armory Show, Frieze are very much succeeding in showing established artists, photo fairs are not able to do it at all: if you make a list with the 50 best photographers in the world, you would hardly find more than 5 photographers represented at Paris Photo; while almost all the established artists are represented in leading Art fairs. And it is worse when you list 50 emerging talents in photography, you won’t find probably any at Paris photo, while you would find probably 30-40 emerging artists at Art Basel, Frieze or the Armory Show. The worst of the worst is that major photographers (with few exceptions, of course) are actually not shown in photo fairs anymore, but in Contemporary Art Fairs! Of course, Paris Photo itself is not responsible for this - they know what’s going on very well - but it shows how the photography world is still very immature.
Eric van der Weijde, Obersalzberg, 2008
FS: And why Paris Photo would miss this goal of showcasing a wide choice of leading and emerging photographers?
YB: Paris Photo simply follows the average taste of the photo crowd. Photography world is very much dogmatic and conservative - probably because it is a recent art, and still insecure about its forces. I am also working in contemporary art and I see how people dare to lead formal investigations.
The last couple of years have seemed to show that there might be no real need of photographs anymore, but a growing need for videos – we have witnessed a shift from the paper format to an online format. Online publishers need videos, not photographs; if you add this very big problem to the fact that contemporary art spaces and fairs are more and more willing to show photographs, then you can imagine that the photo crowd will deal more and more with left-over photographers, Sunday photographers. I don’t know a single photo-student from the Netherlands who wants to be in a photography gallery, they only want to be in art galleries... slowly photography is becoming a 20th century thing.
There is of course something strange in the fact that the some of the best photographers in the world meet up in a country with a great history in photography, but a very poor contemporary photo scene: in that sense, that Offprint is organised during Paris photo, and by a French, can give the wrong signal about Offprint and its intentions. Offprint does not want to be considered as "French", because honesty obliges to say that photography is nowadays very strong in Germany, Swiss, Netherlands, UK, USA... but not in France anymore. Paris is the location, not an influence for me.
Make a selection of the best museums / best photographers / best photobooks every year and count... Germany, Swiss, Netherlands, UK, USA... I think those countries are leading countries for photography.
But Paris is an illusion, isn’t it?
Uta Eisenreich, Network, Teamwork, 2002