Mel Bochner

Misunderstandings (A Theory of Photography)

9 cards with texts and 1 card with offsetprint (b/w photograph) in envelope
Collection Fotomuseum Winterthur
Inv. no. 2004-004-001a-k
© Mel Bochner

Mel Bochner
b. 1940 (Pittsburgh, US), lives and works in New York, US

Since its invention, the question of what photography is or ought to be has preoccupied not only its exponents, but also artists, art historians, philosophers and academics of other disciplines. The ongoing discourse on the photographic is spreading increasingly throughout society and is even encouraging politicians to state their positions – not least owing to the tendency of photographic images, particularly as a result of digitisation, to adopt ever new and changing manifestations. When the American conceptual artist Mel Bochner set out to investigate conceptions of photography in 1970, the digital revolution was still barely conceivable. Nevertheless, the nine selected quotes have a high degree of topicality in the light of current debates. They mirror obsolete and timeless conceptions such as the incompatibility of photography with abstraction through to the belief that only photography allows us to see things as they really are. The photographic medium continues to be the source of many misunderstandings and engagement with it is a must.