Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sour Grapes and Bullshit

My Newest Art Project by mdt1960
My Newest Art Project, a photo by mdt1960 on Flickr.
Like past years, I had no realistic expectations of winning anything in this year’s Project Launch photo competition. But, I had expected that whatever projects were selected, I would be totally blown away (or at least impressed) by their entries. Yet, after reviewing the top awards (with the exception of Will Steacy’s “Deadline” project), I’ve concluded I know nothing about “art” or “photography” based on this year’s top choices. And, after three attempts, I won’t be bothering The Center with future entries as my work is clearly not vague enough, not quirky enough, nor is it eccentric enough for anything to do with The Center’s idea of “award-winning” photography.

I found myself contemplating how much weed the jurors had been smoking as they made their (what seemed to me) willy-nilly selections for 2013. Perhaps only as they were coming out of the fog had they finally started to appreciate Steacy’s project and thus gave a wee bit of credence to what they were doing.

Reading up on the comments by some of the jurors was painfully laughable. Juror Christopher McCall awarded Laia Abril’s project that “documented” those who embrace eating disorders. This so-called photographer went about her craft by taking pictures of her computer screen (or perhaps just used screen shots generated by her computer… not that it really matters). Rather than seeking out, getting to know, and photographing those with eating disorders, this “artist” has simply decided to photograph self-portraits posted by members of this community on the internet. As long as that’s the case, perhaps Abril should only be considered a “virtual photographer.”

Juror McCall justifies Abril’s “photographic technique” saying, “Abril’s use of the computer monitor—with its banding, smudges and stains across the screen—render her subjects through a lens inherent to the technology and social media prevalent in society today.” Catcher in the Rye protagonist and antihero Holden Caulfield would have had a field day with these remarks. Talk about “art speak” bullshit. If Abril had simply posted links to all of the websites she stalks and “photographs,” the experience of this subject-matter would have been the same.

I suppose further comments should now follow on the winning selection from a Swiss-born Japanese kid who had the hard luck of being turned down for Japanese nationality because he was already a Swiss citizen—a tough and compelling life indeed. David Favrod sets out to create “my own Japan, in Switzerland…” through his obscure and disjointed images. Sounds riveting, yeah?

Simply put, it’s a sad day when shoddy-to-mediocre work is promoted (undeservingly) as award-winning art or photography.

When I hear others claim that today’s art and photography worlds are mostly a ruse, I will surely recall the majority of this year’s Project Launch selections.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We share confusion, despair and irritation - I think these words describe my (& your) response to some current art Morg. For a similar take on what has evolved in music take a look at

Thanks for your post. I am ready to get off this corner of the planet and move to the “good old days”.