“There was a particular group of still-life photographs which for me looked like details of a complex landscape. But it was a fictional landscape. What made me stop photographing landscapes was that I no longer felt I could make Eden-like photographs of something which was being destroyed. But I could deal with the notion of a fictional landscape as that doesn’t refer to a supposed state of reality. ”

John Blakemore

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The Vanishing Pictures: David Shield’s War is Beautiful

War is horrible and we all can agree on that, yet we find ourselves in conflict after conflict after conflict in an never-ending trail of horror since the end of the second world war. Although it may now have caught up with us, and the attempt of the west to keep it off its on soil may have ended with the attacks in 2001 and now with the the attacks in Paris, the rest of the world has seen an endless parade of blood and gore. Yet the peace-movement has found its end with the demise of the Soviet Union – since then, our perception of war has changed. That already started in the early eighties: War photographers like Don McCullin, were put out of business, when governments that went into war tightened their grip on the media and newspapers were more and more tuned to be a good environment for advertising

David Shields has analyzed the war pictures of the New York Times and comes to surprising and shocking conclusions: The way that newspapers report on wars has changed dramatically:

“In my analysis very few, if any, front page A1 pictures since October of 1997 have conveyed anything of the horror, the cost, the consequence of war. To me as many as 700 of those photographs I analysed can be read as beautified and sanctified, glamourised and glorified war.”

You can read the whole interview with him on L’Oeil de la Photographie. And if you ever dare to look into Christoph Bangert’s “War Porn”, you get an idea which pictures are left out of our tabloids: When Francois Hollande now openly speaks about “War”, it becomes obvious, that the propaganda war that brought us here had already started years ago.

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There Are Too Many Images III: New Photography 2015

This is the press-conference on the opening of the latest installements on this ongoing series of exhibitions. New Photography was started 30 years ago by John Szarkowski when the times were very different: It is nowadays a herculanean attempt to get a grip on what’s going on in photography right now.

At least from these remarks, I don’t have any idea if they did a good job with navigating this ocean: You get the usual art-bla-bla and name-droppping(the “liquid image”, quoting Jeff Wall, although he said that in a completely different context and had a very precise idea of what he meant, not this wishy-washy metaphor of the “ocean of images”; the post-internet age, which is basically just a summary for the people for which the internet has become something that is “just there” and is no longer a topic in itself), evasive answers to the selection-process: At least from this press-conference I got the impression that they have no idea why they selected one photographer and left out another. But maybe, that is the theme here: That there no theme here and no concept.

Still, it’s the MoMa, so if you want to know what goes on and what will sell in the upcoming years, you probably have to look at that…

PS: And let me add here, that I have absolutely no idea why they have chosen the Oskar Schlemmer image as a background. Quentin Bajac briefly mentions Kracauer, but from this remark I cannot really defer if this is just a name-dropping or if there is an actual connection between Kracauer/Schlemmer/Bauhaus and this exhibition: From what I got he’s only using it to show the continuity of this feeling of being overwhelmed by a torrent of images. Is this just sloppy or am I just not understanding something here?!

 

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