How do you eat photography?
You know what we mean:
consume, enjoy, pour over, be moved by, share, emulate, covet, peruse, get influenced through, get angry because of, fall in love, be inspired, communicate with.
All of those things.
We’re not taking about navel gazing about our own images.
C’mon, we all have a love/hate relationship with our personal photos, until that one rises like cream above the rest.
We’re talking about all of the other photography out there.
You know, the established and recognized artists.
The current show at MOMA, The Shaping of New Visions: Photography, Film, Photobook helps break it down in a very historical manner.
They start the tour with Man-Ray photographs, photograms, a short experimental film and a magazine.
Yes, way back then, photographers as artists worked in a variety of mediums, setting out a buffet of work, for the viewer to select.
Perhaps it was the acceptance of photography in the right artistic circles, that kept the options open.
A rare film by photographer Paul Strand and painter Charles Wheeler called Manhatta circa 1921, showed everyone that Mr. Strand wasn’t all bowls and fences. Within the film you may see some NYC scenes lensed that are very reminiscent of iconic still images.
Wait til you see the ferry commuter scenes in the beginning.
The film spans an imaginary day in the life of New York City, beginning with footage of Staten Island ferry commuters and culminating with the sun setting over the Hudson River. It has been described as the first avant-garde film made in America. Its many brief shots and dramatic camera angles emphasize New York’s photographic nature.”
Moving on to Robert Frank and the Americans, you get a sense of what the separate images were like, and why the 800 rolls of 35mm shot, became the 83 shots included in the final book. It has been reprinted many times since the initial run in the 50’s, which has allowed more folks to enjoy the meal of the whole experience. Each time it’s reprinted, Robert Frank oversees the process and adds an image or 2.
(THAT’S why we have so many editions!)
There is a huge bonus in this room as well, with a slide show of chromes by Helen Levitt, not seen since 1969. If street is your passion, you’ll love it.
It clicks along on an old Kodak Carousel.
And of course one of the most endeared street photogs in Japan,
Daido Moriyama, is featured. His incredible output of publications was highlighted earlier this year at Aperture, when he let special attendees pick the images to be bound into a book made right then, and signed by the master.
The photobook entree entered a new realm as the viewer chose the ingredients.
Of course the photobook took a turn when Ed Ruscha shot Sunset Blvd, both sides and produced a book that unfolded with an extreme panoramic feel all along the length.
Since it’s an ever changing landscape, he did an update called THEN & NOW
Overall, the exhibit delivers on it’s promise, exploring the ways we consume photography.
Or eat it.
Having the incredible archive of photography at hand makes for a thick and rich show, no matter what the theme.
It’s moving fast, though.
The show does seem to go up to a time frame point with a video installation that explains a still/time lapse image. Very cool. We’ll get you a proper link to the artist.
It’s a museum, not a gallery, and the speed with which things are changing is perhaps more than a large institution should attempt.
You know, maybe we are having more snacks that we share, then sitting down for a full course meal.
“The illiterate of the future will not be the man who cannot read the alphabet, but the one who cannot take a photograph.” – Walter Benjamin