Tag, photojournalism
1. Centrist Liberalism Triumphant: A Postwar Humanist Reframing of Documentary Photography

Hello world!

This is my first blog. I’m not a blogging person and I confess I’m feeling uneasy about the vulnerable improvisatory condition that blog writing involves, a kind of performative public conversation open to doubts and suppositions and maybe to banality :)), rather than solid demonstrative writing. But, anyway: let’s try it.

This blog takes informally, maybe perversely, the title of Immanuel Wallerstein’s recently published fourth volume of his landmark book series on the modern world-system. I will attempt to bring to discussion some ideas and intuitions concerning the postwar reframing of documentary photography as a liberal humanistic (or humanitarian?) discipline. I’ll come back to definitions of humanism further below. more

Published: 01.06.2014
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01.11.–15.12.2013
6. Photography, She Said, Makes Me Nervous

Michael Wesely, Jochen Holy (12.06 - 12.11 Uhr, 6.3.2013) © Michael Wesely

Decades ago, when I wanted to be a painter and also needed a job, I thought it might be good to get some hands-on art world experience. I went to a number of galleries to inquire if there might be any positions and—in the era before MFA, museum studies, and arts administration programs made that crazily competitive—was hired by Harold Jones, the founding director of LIGHT Gallery, which had recently opened on Madison Avenue. Harold, who had spotted me looking at shows there previously, took a chance, hired me, and in ways I still marvel at, changed the course of my life. more

Published: 03.12.2013
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5. Popular, not Populist

My apologies for the extended silence. I have been putting the finishing touches to a book about the relation between popular culture, art and photography, which will also be the subject of this blog entry.

It seems generally accepted now that photography became a modern medium of art in the 1920s. This was when it gave up its resistance to the widespread industrial basis of photography (Pictorialism is thought to have typified that resistance) and came into a close or parallel relation to the medium’s various social functions. Photography triumphed artistically by remaking, diverting, re-presenting or otherwise contemplating its ‘applied’ forms such as the document, the film still, the advertisement, the commercial portrait and the archival image. more

Published: 27.05.2013
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3. Backwards and Forwards

For many years I have been looking through the back issues of the 20th century’s illustrated press. Magazines, journals, newspapers. It is really impossible to write or teach the history of photography without doing this. The Sunday Times Magazine from March 24, 1968 carries, among other things, Don McCullin’s celebrated black and white images of soldiers in Vietnam - one throwing a grenade, another lying dead with his possessions spilling out.

Don McCullin, 'This is how it is', Sunday Times Magazine, March 28, 1968

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Published: 02.05.2013
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6. The Grid and More

In 1985, the American photographer, William Gedney, copied out a passage in his notebook from the English writer on landscape, Nan Fairbrother: “The shapes we make for ourselves are geometrical, and the background of civilised life is more or less rectangular. Our rooms and houses are arrangements of cubes, our doors and windows, furniture and rugs, books and boxes – all their angles are right angles and all their sides are straight.” more

Published: 07.04.2012
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4. Photography and Witnessing

I was looking at a collection of photo-essays on jail experience, militarization and the death penalty called Art as Witness, edited by the “photo-artist”, Parthiv Shah, and a teacher of journalism, Sana Das (Tulika Books: New Delhi, 2010). It had begun as an “ambitious and elusive project” called “Art as Activism“ at Amnesty International, India, involving “artists, writers, advocates, film-makers, activists, journalists, police officers and professionals”. more

Published: 22.03.2012
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