June 13, 2009
The third Look3 a festival of the photograph founded by National Geographic photographer Nick Nichols and Jessica Nagle comes at an interesting time for photography. With newspapers and magazines losing subscriptions and every photographer I met telling tales of diminishing assignments and struggling for survival, it seems like a great chance to explore where photography can go next.
So I was particularly excited to see the Shots show at the open air pavilion at the end of the pedestrian mall in charming Charlottesville, VA where the festival is held. This was all about multimedia, and trumpeted as “work from emerging and internationally recognized photographers.”
and there was some mighty fine work and presentations, including:
Michael Wolf’s Transparent City,
Christian Ziegler’s Art of Deception,
Saiful Huq Omi’s Bangladesh,
Alejandro Chaskielberg’s High Tide,
Andrew Cutraro’s Out Yonder
and the merciful relief of Alex Prager’s Big Valley.
But at the end of 2 hours, I came away overwhelmed from that distinctly American desire to confuse giving people too much crap the better option over smaller more thoughtful bites of quality.
So for a festival of three’s, I offer my gallery of too’s:
- too much volume. YEAH!! DISTORTEDAUDIO!!! YEAHHHHH!!!!!
- too many pictures. Thank god for the 4 minute limit
- too much self importance, visually and in narration, without showing me why
- too many things I’ve seen before in terms of style and approach
- too few surprises
- too many wide angle pictures following by more wide angle pictures
- too little desire to communicate understanding.
One big surprise was the amount of stolen popular music. It’s astounding that photographers, an artistic community that values ownership and rights to creative work would baldly rip off other artists, often without credit and most probably without permission. A colleague suggested we should have a music festival where all of these images were shown onstage without permission and without credit or payment. Any objections?
But if you’re going to steal, be bold so my vote for the best use of stolen music goes to Michael Rubenstein for his witty use of Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get it On’ with his photos of Mumbai Sperm Banks. For a moment we got to laugh .