I do not heart Lacan

Oh man, how much am I loving Jonathan Blaustein these days. If you're not reading his articles for A Photo Editor you should be because he's a no-holds-barred kind of writer and I love it. (Full disclosure here: he's also a friend, but I guarantee you if you ever have the chance to meet him he is just as outspoken and hilarious in person.) Get a load of this, from his piece "Cash Rules the Conceptual Art World":
The art world plays by a different set of rules, and I think that can boil photographers’ blood. Artists view everything as fair game. The rules are there are no rules. And this can often lead to sophomoric bullshit, like Vito Acconci jerking off beneath the floorboards. Or Richard Prince so blatantly ripping off some Jamaican portraits, slapping them on canvas, and marking the images up 10,000%. Then he had the gall to claim it was his right, as the source material wasn’t creative or original enough to merit copyright protection. Seriously? That’s like the school bully stealing your bologna sandwich and then taking a crap on it in front of the whole school.
ROTFL as they say. Another gem: "Many photographers equate the art world with inane video installations backed by dense press releases packed with large words that bludgeon the average viewer." Reminds me of all the postmodern crap I had to read in art school. Every time I think about how long it took me to figure out the distinction between "signifier" and "signified" I shudder. I wonder whether kids these days are still forced to suffer through Lacan or if he's finally passé. I like to reread George Orwell's "Politics and the English Language" from time to time as a good reality check: it helps me remember that Lacan is incomprehensible not because I lack the correct psychoanalytic (and by extension art-speak) chops but because, essentially, he writes pretentious gobbledygook.


The latest on 100 Portraits/100 Photographers

What began as an exhibit during FotoWeek DC, 100 Portraits/100 Photographers has recently traveled to Snap! Orlando in Florida and the Head On Photography Festival in Sydney, Australia, with I believe more shows in the works. Andy will be giving a lecture on this and other topics this Saturday at 1pm during the NYPH just mentioned in my last post, details here.

Much like Larissa, Andy has been tireless in his support and promotion of photographers, and 100 Portraits is no exception. Sorry for the kiss assedness of this post, but these two have been good to me and to the photo world at large, and without people like them the art community wouldn't be the same.

*Update: Just saw there's a conversation between Andy, Larissa and Visura Magazine editor Adriana Teresa on the NYPH blog, check it out.

Indie Photobook Library at the New York Photo Festival

I can't make any promises as the next few days are nuts schedule-wise, but I'm hoping to maybe be able to swing by this event on Sunday, details below. Larissa Leclair has done amazing things with the Indie Photobook library in an impressively short amount of time and the full collection of iPL titles will be on display at the NYPH, including my magazine (you can buy a copy online here if you'd like one to keep). My book will also be available for viewing as part of the Photography Book Now honorable mentions display. All of the info you need can be found here; as always I'm grateful for the exposure.

Larissa has also been busy via her involvement with 100 Portraits/100 Photographers; there are some events around the project this weekend and beyond as well, more on that in another post in a moment.


Good question...

Aline Smithson has a very thought-provoking post up on Lenscratch today here. In it she raises questions about whether we as artists can "afford" success--both literally and figuratively. I actually had the pleasure of seeing Aline in person last month at one of the exhibitions she sites--it was an excellent show and I was drawn to her series in particular because the girls in her images were all Edie's age, but staged in a way to create a dichotomy between a sense of the old-fashioned (through their clothing and wallpapered backdrops) while also pointing to the future, as one could imagine what they might be like as adults. During the opening Aline and I touched on some of the issues she talks about in her post, mainly portfolio reviews and what a photographer can and can't expect to get out of the experience.

When I attended Review Santa Fe it was wonderful for me socially, and gave me a sense of community that has been invaluable. However, as far as the actual monetary costs involved were concerned, there was no gain as such. Obviously there is more to all of this than earnings, and for me the trip was worth it. But as my income hasn't increased since then it has become more and more financially difficult to swing certain things, and the reality is that if I wanted to attend RSF again I would need to approach it realistically, being willing to sacrifice other things in order to be able to go. All of this points to the choices I as an artist struggle with: the necessity of making work in order to feel fulfilled coupled with frustration that I can't have my cake and eat it too, at least not for the foreseeable future.

This reminds me of Colin Pantall's post "What is Success?" My answer to the question was generally philosophical (scroll down to read my answer), but when I see Aline so clearly outline the other, more practical side it is pretty depressing I must admit. Is there a scenario in which photographers might again be "rewarded" for participation in things rather than footing the bill to have the work out there? I don't know the answer.

I'll close with the end of Aline's post, where she summarized so well the difficulties I and other photographers face:

"We need to be marketers, promoters, and navigate through social media. We are required to wear many hats and be capable of many tasks, and still have a creative voice, and find stillness in the chaos to make work.

Something is wrong with this template. In addition, this enormous expense put onto the photographer narrows our community, narrows who can participate. I don't have the answers, but it's time we figure it out. Otherwise, we won't be able to afford our own success."