April 11, 2008

at the risk of sentimentality

From an interview with photographer Joel Meyerowitz on contemporary photography.

I’ve always been a photographer less interested in the academic and formal side of photography than for the feelingful side. I always opt for feeling. I think my pictures have in them–at the risk of sentimentality, which I try to avoid…nonetheless, I think people are suspicious of feeling and beauty. They’ve become sort of no-no’s in the modern, contemporary art world, and so if you make pictures that evoke some form of beauty, people are suspicious…and you see a lot of flat-footed, boring fucking photography out in the world today, that passes as conceptual or high-valued, art-world photography. I look at most of that stuff and I think, ‘these guys are boring, they have nothing to say, they’re walking around formulaicly making bands of modern life…industrial things or supermarkets….’ I don’t give a shit if it’s Gurksy or…any of the others who are playing that game. Most of that stuff bores the shit out of me.


  1. John Buaas on April 11th, 2008 at 6:58 pm

    He’s right.
    I realized something similar when I was in grad school: texts came to be regarded as something we could examine . . . as opposed to admire. We read a lot of crappy stuff because, I’m convinced, it lay still when we got the theory scalpels out. You can imagine the papers we wrote. And oh, how we loved Irony: it helped us keep those suspect emotions at an intellectual arm’s length. Granted, grad school isn’t, nor should it be, mere Art Appreciation. But reducing all considerations of texts to discussions of Race, Class and Gender got old after a while.
    It was in the midst of those days that I discovered and read Blood Meridian for the first time. Quite apart from its obvious merits was something else in its favor: it wouldn’t lie still for the theory scalpels. It simply was, as few novels are.
    Weird how a novel–especially that one, given its subject matter–can keep one sane. It reminded me of why I wanted to major in English in the first place. It could not have come at a better time.