Joel Peter Witkin talk in Santa Fe

Discussion in 'Photographers' started by david b, Jul 6, 2005.

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  1. david b

    david b Member

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    I just got in from a JPW talk at the Linda Durham gallery. He went around and spoke about the 10 or so prints he has here. He went into detail about each photograph (ie. the body parts etc.).

    Well, about 3 minutes into the first photograph, a young woman passes out and completely flattened her head on the solid cement floor. After several minutes and many people yelling for 911 or a doctor, she gets up and walks out of the gallery.

    It really added to the atmosphere.
     
  2. skillian

    skillian Subscriber

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    Sounds like the show was a real knock out. (Oh boy, that was terrible....)
     
  3. Wayne

    Wayne Subscriber

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    I dont know why anyone would go in the first place.
     
  4. Bighead

    Bighead Member

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    Why don't you ask why? Since you don't know. Apparently the person that started this post went.

    Back to reality..... I would think it was one of those situations where you were disappointed about what happened, yet, not suprised. Maybe somewhat surreal..

    He should have taken shots of the lady....
     
  5. wfwhitaker

    wfwhitaker Member

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    Perhaps it was staged?...

    Anyway, I ran across this in my Ebay haunts and thought it would be the perfect camera with which to photograph JPW. :smile:
     
  6. Keith Tapscott.

    Keith Tapscott. Member

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    Who wants to to view that sicko`s work anyway?
     
  7. david b

    david b Member

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    me...
     
  8. Wayne

    Wayne Subscriber

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    Why? She wasnt dismembered, or even dead.
     
  9. livemoa

    livemoa Member

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    Oh boy, I think I can see where this thread is going.
     
  10. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    I would definately love to see his work, and hear about his working process.
    In fact I have his books and find his work quite interesting.
     
  11. Bighead

    Bighead Member

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    This is in reply to two posts where individuals have stated "who would want to see his work"?? Well, at the very least, I would, my girlfriend would, my son would, a few of my past instructors have and I have read countless entries at other sights of people who have. Some in favor and some against. I think its shitty to enter a post and state simply "who would want to see his work", when the author starts by stating that he had been.

    Your either on purpose, or inadvertainly, trying to make a stab at those who would when it would make more sense to discribe why you wouldn't. Why do you dislike his work? Why do you not agree with his ethics on obtaining his "models". God (or whatever) knows there is basis for good, clean debate there.

    I am not trying to fuel a "what is art" debate. I am not trying to debate whether the stuff is good or what is right or ethical or sick or whatever else... I do however think his work, as a craft, is decent. I don't care for some of the more theatrical stuff. The lengths in which he went to obtain his subjects is commendable. Its easy to take a shot of a landscape, by comparison.

    Sick, demented... Blah! Death is a part of life and art immitates life... In my view its a valid subject matter. "Dismembered freaks" are worthy of a portrait just like all the beautiful people out there.
     
  12. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Because it is fake, it only appeals to the basest of morbid and prurient motivations. Nothing JPW has done, has not been done in Hollywood. Is it good photography just because he went and played with cadavers (illegally at that!). If I darken a room, hang a few chains and ask a friend of mine to torture a dog while I take pictures, is this good photography? I dont see anything special in his work, other than the initial morbid curiosity.
     
  13. Wayne

    Wayne Subscriber

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    You are entitled to your view, even the copout "I am not trying to debate whether the stuff is good or what is right or ethical or sick or whatever else" attitude that his supporters have. If you avoid the ethics and whether its good or right its easy to be a Witkin fan, or a Ted Bundy fan. If I avoid ethical issues, I can support all sorts of things-murder, torture, rape, you name it. I am not going to discuss why I wouldnt go for people who ignore ethical issues, you/they wouldnt get it. I'm pleased that you would think my comment was shitty.
     
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  15. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    I saw some of his photographs in Santa Fe several years ago. Very impressive work. I wasn't familiar with him at the time. I can understand how some people react to his photographs but I've read quite a bit about him and I bought some of his books and I like most of his work. I'm still not comfortable with some of his pictures but that's my own personal taste.
     
  16. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    I am not comfortable with some of the work by war photographers, Salgado and others who put in front of my eyes images that are disturbing.
    As well I am not comfortable with a some of the images jpw has done.
    But , look at the Bone House ** Testicle Stretch with the Possibility of a Crushed Face, New Mexico , 1982.* This image is by far one of the most amusing images I have ever seen.
    I think his work is excellent , but a lot of my friends disagree (some very aggresively) but they allow me to like his work even though it revolts some of them.
    When I was in college (first year) we were forced to watch movie clips from the holocost camps. I had never seen footage like this and I hope I never see footage again. I think I am a better , or more sensitive person from viewing this footage.
    How this relates to JPW work I am not sure .But I do look at his work with interest.
     
  17. david b

    david b Member

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    For a person like me who strives and falls short of technical perfection, JPW comes very close. His images are printed perfectly. They really are some of the technically best images I have ever seen.

    I am not a huge fan of his work, content wise. But since seeing his work in person, I have to say they are much better than in a book.
     
  18. Wayne

    Wayne Subscriber

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    War and the Holocaust were not staged Bob. They are horrible real images that must be seen to help prevent them from ever occurring again, and the people responsible were given their just due whenever possible. Witkin fabricates his own little horrors, quite likely illegally as Jorge says. He should be in jail and his sympathizers should be in therapy.
     
  19. david b

    david b Member

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    Hmmm....I should be in therapy?
     
  20. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Wayne

    I am well aware that those images were not staged. My point is that I was forced to look at the footage to open my eyes to crazy possibilities.
    Witkens work is on a world stage well beyond the scope of most of us here and I have happened to see some of his work and find it interesting. Maybe we should arrest the Mapelthorpe crowd for a large part of his imagery, As well I have seen coffee table books of hard core pornographic work that is currently selling as art. we should arrest them as well.
    Jock Sturges work has been a recent hot topic of debat on this site in the near past, should we arrest those sympathisers as well?

    I just happen to look at a wide range of work, in my daily work life and I do think JPW"s work is noteworthy otherwise there would not be such a divided camp on his imagery. As all things in life , if you do not agree move on ,I am quite willing to let the courts deal with JPW and I am sure he is as well.
    I am not looking for a fight here , but I think I should be able to look at any work I want without hassel from others for doing so.
     
  21. Joe Lipka

    Joe Lipka Member

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    I think that JPW's work represents a theory that I have about contemporary photography. It's work created strictly for the gallery and/or museum rather than for the general public. Usually, one sees this in the 8 x 10 photograph (that's feet, not inches - and btw, when did an 8 x 10 photographic measurement go from inches to feet. Did I miss something? :D ) that hangs on a museum wall.

    The art work is created only with the curator/collector in mind, not the general public. So, it can be big, outrageous, deal with very PC causes and generally not be suitable for hanging in the family room. The upside of producing work like this? Curators will pay thousands of dollars for this work, where you and I wouldn't even consider giving it more than a passing glance.
     
  22. Kerik

    Kerik Member

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    Face it, the general public doesn't give a rat's ass about art. Nor do they even know what art is (just make sure it matches the couch). Don't forget, they think that Thomas Kinkade is a modern master. It the "general public" is your intended audience, well good luck...

    Kerik
    www.kerik.com
     
  23. david b

    david b Member

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    JPW's work had an $8000 price tag.
     
  24. Sparky

    Sparky Member

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    Well, I, for one - am so happy that his work is out there. I think it's some of the most beautiful and mortal work out there. "Staged" photography has an incredibly rich tradition - going back esp. to Niepce and the like... F.Holland Day, Muybridge. In fact, I would venture to suggest that Witkin chose this method because of it's link to early photography and to borrow semantic qualities found therein. Anyway - I think it's gorgeous, touching and brave - and it really makes AA and the crew look like fools IMHO. A genius use of large format and traditonal technologies. Yes, I love Serrano also. There will always be those very unsophisticated individuals when it comes to the issue of representation - who will think that portraying a corpse indicates a predisposition towards necrophilia. But perhaps that says much more about the person with that perception than the object of their derision. If we can have the neutered banality of Adams - why can't we have the Witkins and Serranos as well?
     
  25. Bighead

    Bighead Member

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    I wasn't coping out. I wasn't trying to debate those issues, which I clearly said were suitable for debate. I was stating that if your going to make a stab, justify it... You have valid opinions too, and so does everyone else that dislikes his work. Don't just come in, make a stab at his supporters and then leave.

    Ha ha ha ha ha.....
     
  26. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Aww plueeeassee.....! I have always wondered why some people equate "sophistication" with admiring shocking subjects. Lets start first with Serrano, I am sure your acceptance of his work has to do with the "Christ in piss" picture. Well, let me tell you this was mostly a religious group hoollaboo, and his picture was taken out of context of the work he was doing at the time. Serrano was working on Santeria, religious ceremonies mainly practiced in the Caribbean islands which date back to their African origins. Santeria rituals involve the use of human fluids and religious icons, blood, semen, urine. People who got upset about the "Christ in piss" picture, mainly got upset because they looked at the title and failed to see how the photograph fit with the rest of the work. There was nothing shocking, insulting or wrong with the Serrano work.

    OTOH we have JPW who decides he is going to play with human remains illegally and without consent and people say...wow, what genius! Now, I know some people will say, well he was invited by people in Mexico to do this....SO WHAT? If I invite you to come to Mexico and rob banks and kill people, does that make it right?

    In any case, the only shocking idea with JPW's pictures is that he used real cadavers, if the intention was to wrestle with his inner demons, he could have had latex parts manufactured and he could have played with them whichever way he wanted to his heart content. Instead he came to Mexico and illegally used body parts to make pictures which have no journalistic value, these were meant to be "art." Every time this discussion surfaces, those of you admiring Witkin`s work always fail to answer this simple question, if there is nothing wrong with this, how come he did not do it in the US?

    I have no problem with his misshapen human pictures, these people are free to do as they wish and if they want to pose for Witkin more the power to them, but there has to come a time when one has to draw a line between what is morally right and what is not, and using animals and human remains as if they were your play things IMO crosses that line. As I said, what is the big deal? Go to any S&M store, go nuts buying all the chains and stuff and then hang your dog from one of them and take pictures while it dies...you are now as much a "genius" as Witkin.

    Sorry, but your idea of sophistication falls far short of mine.
     
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