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Author Topic: Fall 2009 Issue of Aperture  (Read 3498 times)
russell a
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« on: October 30, 2009, 05:40:10 PM »
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Aperture Quarterly, which for me has suffered an identity crisis in this Post-whatever era has taken another murky step.  This issue features, on the cover, no less, a William Eggleston drawing leading to an article inside the magazine.  Which cover, no doubt led to the magazine's placement in the art section of the rack of my local bookseller rather than the photography section.  Curious bit of leakage I would say.  The drawings don't represent a breakthru of any sort - they are pleasant enough drawings in a decorative abstract mode executed with various sized ink markers - a half-step removed from doodling.  I'm puzzled by Aperture's motivation.  Are they smooching Eggleston's gluteus maximus for some favor or is it just a reflection of the access that old plantation money can buy?
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Geoff Wittig
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« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2009, 05:51:44 PM »
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Quote from: russell a
Aperture Quarterly, which for me has suffered an identity crisis in this Post-whatever era has taken another murky step.  This issue features, on the cover, no less, a William Eggleston drawing leading to an article inside the magazine.  Which cover, no doubt led to the magazine's placement in the art section of the rack of my local bookseller rather than the photography section.  Curious bit of leakage I would say.  The drawings don't represent a breakthru of any sort - they are pleasant enough drawings in a decorative abstract mode executed with various sized ink markers - a half-step removed from doodling.  I'm puzzled by Aperture's motivation.  Are they smooching Eggleston's gluteus maximus for some favor or is it just a reflection of the access that old plantation money can buy?


Near as I can tell, it's just an artifact of the incredibly incestuous and clubby nature of the art photography world. Aperture is dominated by a post-Szarkowski view of photography, where hipness and being grandfathered in at the Cool Kids' table count heavily. So Eggleston has a perpetual open invite, as do folks like Christenberry and Sally Mann et al.

The range of voices welcomed into the pantheon is really incredibly narrow.
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bill t.
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« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2009, 06:29:43 PM »
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There was a time when I thought the likes of Aperture were manifestly important.  One of many things that imprisoned my malleable young mind in the pornography of hipness.  But now I just don't care anymore and that makes me feel better, an attitude that would have appalled my younger self.
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michael
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« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2009, 06:29:55 PM »
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Sadly, Aperture has been irrelevant to the broad world of photography for many years. Somewhat like a lost child that has joined Scientology or Hare Krishna. A lost soul.

Michael
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RSL
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« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2009, 09:01:06 PM »
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Quote from: bill t.
There was a time when I thought the likes of Aperture were manifestly important.

Bill, There was a time when it was. But as Michael pointed out, that was a long, long time ago. Too bad... It's finally degenerated into total incoherence. I've been subscribed for a long time, but I won't renew.
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2009, 11:19:57 PM »
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Quote from: RSL
Bill, There was a time when it was. But as Michael pointed out, that was a long, long time ago. Too bad... It's finally degenerated into total incoherence. I've been subscribed for a long time, but I won't renew.

Me too. I have every issue since the mid-1960s. I kept subscribing for a very long time hoping that it would become meaningful again, but no more. Lenswork is the only photo mag I know of that still has intelligent writing and good photos.
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-Eric Myrvaagnes

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« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2009, 11:23:24 PM »
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CrApeture
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Geoff Wittig
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« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2009, 01:39:00 PM »
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Quote from: RSL
Bill, There was a time when it was. But as Michael pointed out, that was a long, long time ago. Too bad... It's finally degenerated into total incoherence. I've been subscribed for a long time, but I won't renew.

Lenswork really does appear to be the only credible descendent of the original Aperture magazine's approach to the art of photography. Aperture's founders (Ansel Adams, Minor White, Dorothea Lange, Barbara Morgan and the Newhalls—talk about some serious parentage!) were classic modernists in their photographic æsthetic. When Michael E. Hoffman took over, he quicky aimed the magazine into post-modern territory, starting with Diane Arbus and subsequently veering further into hipster weirdness with every issue.

Photography was at one point the most democratic of the arts, something anyone could participate in. Unfortunately it is now eagerly embraced by the rarified world of 'high art', and consequently cutting edge photography "art with a capital A" is almost unrecognizable to those of us with more mainstream tastes. I guess that means we're Phillistines or provincial rubes.
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bill t.
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« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2009, 04:26:29 PM »
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Quote from: Geoff Wittig
I guess that means we're Phillistines or provincial rubes.
Don't think I missed that you didn't even include Yokels, hey I'm not offended, no really.
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russell a
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« Reply #9 on: October 31, 2009, 06:19:55 PM »
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If anyone needs any additional evidence that photography in the Big Time Art Market (BTAM) is becoming equivalent to Works on Paper, check out the sample images from MOMA's New Photography 2009.   And, best of all, no camera is required, saving considerable expense and obsolescence.  http://www.moma.org/visit/calendar/exhibitions/891
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bill t.
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« Reply #10 on: October 31, 2009, 06:52:37 PM »
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These are artists embarrassed about photography and desperately driven to be different.  Presented by curators embarrassed about photography and desperately driven to be different.  Screw em.  At least only 4 for 6 used the term "chromogenic."
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Rob C
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« Reply #11 on: November 02, 2009, 02:51:33 PM »
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I tried to play the video but they were really really embarrassed and it just stuttered. I switched off.

Basically, what does any of that stuff have to do with photography? Oh, other than being large and flat.

What a pity; just when I felt how nice it would be to be able to be enthusiastic about something and even, perhaps, enough to gush!

I believe that there is a deeper problem, in all seriousness, and that is that photography has become too ubiquitous and has ceased to mean anything special. Time was, a decent print was rare enough in itself; now, there are so many in so many styles that they have no impact and that's why the new kids (or older new kids) feel obliged to try to shock rather than to impress in a positive manner. Unfortunately for them, even shock has become commonplace. I stopped all magazine subscriptions some three or four years ago, I think it was, and nothing would tempt me back - not even to the casual purchase just for old time's sake.

It is probably much like working in a brothel; after a while you might not even notice the doors opening and closing all day and night.

Rob C
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Geoff Wittig
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« Reply #12 on: November 03, 2009, 05:55:21 AM »
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Quote from: Rob C
I
I believe that there is a deeper problem, in all seriousness, and that is that photography has become too ubiquitous and has ceased to mean anything special. Time was, a decent print was rare enough in itself; now, there are so many in so many styles that they have no impact and that's why the new kids (or older new kids) feel obliged to try to shock rather than to impress in a positive manner. Unfortunately for them, even shock has become commonplace. I stopped all magazine subscriptions some three or four years ago, I think it was, and nothing would tempt me back - not even to the casual purchase just for old time's sake.
Rob C

Well, it depends on the context. Photography in the sense of a decent Flickr or cell phone image is indeed ubiquitous, but a really excellent interpretive print is still uncommon enough in most venues. You are no doubt correct when it comes to "high art"; exhibition reviews in New Yorker magazine for example make no attempt to conceal a sneering condescension toward conventional, pictorially beautiful landscape photography. Instead it's all about the clever conceit, the witty idea behind a series of created images; craft appears to be actively disparaged in today's art world. Most "photography" in the context of high art nowadays seems more akin to cinematography or collage- giant constructed sets populated with actors and dramatically lit, ala Jeff Wall or Gregory Crewdson, or pastiches of stolen ("appropriated") images chopped up and spliced together. I don't get it.

I keep hoping for a backlash against the contemptuous, mercenary, hipster trend in art personified by Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons et al; a return to un-ironic pictorial beauty. But I may not live that long.
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RSL
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« Reply #13 on: November 03, 2009, 10:20:24 AM »
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Rob, I agree with everything Goeff said. I'd add this: The crap we see in publications like Aperture will disappear before long, but really great landscape photography, architectural photography, and street photography won't. One reason it won't disappear is that it's art instead of sensationalism, and one generation's sensationalism is another generation's ennui. The other reason it won't disappear is that history is always interesting. The Farm Security Administration turned out some wonderful photographs and some clunkers, but even the clunkers continue to be interesting because they show us part of our past.
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Rob C
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« Reply #14 on: November 03, 2009, 02:13:35 PM »
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I read a strap-line on Bloomberg TV a couple of days ago saying something to the effect that Hirst had lost his artistic premium, or something to that effect; I wonder if the decline in faux art is starting already? I do think it will happen, as has just been said, but am not so sure that anything much will replace it. In fact, it might be that the entire contemporary art world finds that the jig is well and truly up!

At the end of the day, art is only worth what somebody is willing to pay for it. With willingness absent, you have firewood for my stove, as has also been suggested already. With global warming even that option may close.

Rob C
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