Thursday, November 28, 2013

Paris Photo findings #3: Miguel Rothschild

Still from The Messiah Fights Back, 2007
One thing I noticed at the last Paris Photo was the increased quantity of "mixed technique photography" compared to past editions. By "mixed" I mean photography being altered by non-digital manipulations, like paint and all sorts of materials applied on the surface of the prints. Not that this wasn't previously shown, but I had the feeling that the amount of work experimenting with photographs is growing in numbers. Video was also quite present this year, a confirmation that photography is more and more an idea, rather than a specific kind of object.

Miguel Rothschild is one of those authors who until the recent past would have been called "an artist who uses photography", rather than a photographic artist. The old distinction has always been used to sort of establish a scale of increasing degrees of freedom in the use of the photographic medium: how much somebody would deviate from a straight photography (meant in the broadest possible sense) and venture into other artistic territories.

Günstiger als Gursky (Cheaper than Gursky), 2008

Günstiger als Gursky (Cheaper than Gursky), 2008 (detail)
This kind of distinction is losing more and more sense in the context of a fair of photographic art, and we can finally start focusing exclusively in appreciating the quality of the work rather than speculate on what can be defined in one way or another. Plus Rothschild's work gives an interesting contribution in understanding how the photographic image behave, bringing us back to the physical essence of photography by making all sorts of material interventions on the image: creating a constellation with hundreds of needles over a C-print, cutting tens of holes in photographs and leaving the resulting confettis lying at the bottom of the images, inside the frame; applying fishing lines, straws or small metal balls.

The fault is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings (W. Shakespeare), 2012

The fault is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings (W. Shakespeare), 2012 (detail)
Digital often takes something away from the prints themselves, struggling to gain the same kind of depth that an excellent analog print can deliver: Rothschild's playful hybridisations help us remember the fact that a photograph is first and foremost a real and tangible object.

Jesus Saves, 2010
All images © Miguel Rothschild

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