For my current class at ICP (Photography as Practise: The Daily Blog), Lauren Silberman asked us to read two essays by Paul Graham. Graham is a British photographer whose work explores “… the fertile territory where the descriptive and artistic aspects of photography coalesce, often tackling difficult subject matter for a medium that engages with the observable world.” (Gallery Press Release, 2008).
Here are several quotes that are thought provoking, inspiring and challenging…interspersed with several of Graham’s images from different projects.
“…there remains a sizeable part of the art world that simply does not get photography. They get artists who use photography to illustrate their ideas, installations, performances and concepts, who ‘deploy’ the medium as one of a range of artistic strategies to complete their work. But photography for and of itself–photographs taken from the world as it is–are misunderstood as a collection of random observations and lucky moments, or muddled up with photojournalism, or tarred with a semi-derogatory ‘documentary’ tag.” (The Unreasonable Apple)
“…how do you explain what Garry Winogrand did on a real New York street when he ‘just’ took the picture? Or for that matter what Stephen Shore created with his deadpan image of a crossroads in El Paso? Anyone with an ounce of sensitivity knows they did something there, and something utterly remarkable at that, but…what? How do we articulate this uniquely photographic creative act, and express what it amounts to….?” (The Unreasonable Apple)
on the nature of photography of a certain kind:
“…the nature of the creative act when you dance with life itself–when you form the meaningless world into photographs, then form those photographs into a meaningful world.” (The Unreasonable Apple)
“…artists strive to pierce the opaque thershold of the now, to express something of the thus and so of life at the point they recognised it. They struggle through photography to to define these moments and bring them forward in time to us, to the here and now, so that with the clarity of hindsight, we may glimpse something of what it was they perceived. Perhaps here we have stumbled upon a partial, but nonetheless astonishing description of the creative act at the heart of serious photography: nothing less than the measuring and folding of the cloth of time itself.”
In an interview with Graham in June of 2007, Richard Woodward asked him about the appeal of photography books. As someone who LOVES and spends way too much money on photography books, I just had to share Graham’s response.
“John Gossage made a great comment that his books are the original work. It’s the summation of one’s endeavors—the book is the work. Now, a painter or a sculptor can have a catalogue of their work but… it’s completely different in photography. It is the exact thing—maybe a little smaller scale—but with a one-on-one dialogue when you read it. Looking at a Nan Goldin book is quite different from viewing her photographs on the wall with other people around you. The book is personal and direct, from the artist to you, complete and faithful.”