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Gay Larson
08-18-2006, 08:03 PM
In my opinion, this picture needs no context. It easily stands alone.

I would argue that it is a little girl playing dress up. The mothers shoes give that impression.

Although after being inundated with the JonBenet Ramsey pictures and "expose" of child beauty pageants it sort of makes me cringe, but the fact that they are not her shoes but her mother's suggests that this is not the case. (I could be wrong)

But the body position and the strike a pose "voguing" gives it a sort of charm.


Michael


It certainly could be a little girl playing dress up in her Mother's shoes but the lipstick is too perfect and too bright. It jumps out at you. It was the first thing I noticed. It made me think someone had made her up for the photo shoot. Or as someone suggested, a pageant child.

bjorke
08-18-2006, 09:13 PM
I am curious. You called this an experiment. What was your point?To see what would happen and what comments might come up -- same as ALL posts in this area!. In this specific case, what comments might be when a photo that's highly-context-dependant was posted without the context -- a context that transforms it from a generic cute kid pic to a complex adult one by positing it within something broader (Greenfield has been careful always not to directly preach as to the good or evil of Girl Culture, but instead to use photography to explore it -- this lack of judgementalism and an ability to see directly is a huge part, I'm sure, of her ability to gain intimate access (and probably a reason why she was selected post-GC as a member of VII (http://www.viiphoto.com/)). Whether you agree with the importance of her theme or find it superficial, it's clear (to me) that the context is a big element.

Maybe I should have picked a more obscure photo (not Greenfield) that is meant to be sold as a single pic though part of a broad body of work, like:


http://www.deutsche-bank-kunst.com/art/images/356/17.jpg

or

http://www.photogrowth.com/images/blog/2005/1028_Penn.jpg

blansky
08-18-2006, 10:13 PM
The photographs are interesting individual elements that when put together in the manner they have been tell a story that for me seems to be far-fetched and very unbalanced view of young womanhood.

Of course it has been a long time since I have lived in LA as a young lady and my memory and age could well be skewing my attitudes.

Menopause will do that to you.


Michael

blansky
08-18-2006, 10:27 PM
Bjorke, it seems that your opinion, or the point you're trying to get across is that context is as important as the individual print. Sort of a buy the photographer not the photograph sort of thing.

I think that when a photographer decides to make a social documentary with their photographs, it may be a different thing than when a photographer with their built in prejudices and points of view, takes random picture of subjects than interest them.

But I still hold that if an individual picture can't stand up, then laying a story line around it, is just a crutch and the photograph fails. If that is the case then the photographer should take up cinematography, because the failures should end up in the garbage can and not the background for a series of mediocre pieces to a whole.


Michael

Timothy
08-18-2006, 11:03 PM
I agree with blansky:
If the picture does not work on its own, then a story line is just a lame crutch.
If the picture is supposed to serve a documentary purpose or be evidence for an investigation, then the context is vital. If it is supposed to be art, then it either is, or it is not, and lame titles, captions, or story lines or artist statements will not change that.

Tim R

tim atherton
08-18-2006, 11:05 PM
But I still hold that if an individual picture can't stand up, then laying a story line around it, is just a crutch and the photograph fails. If that is the case then the photographer should take up cinematography, because the failures should end up in the garbage can and not the background for a series of mediocre pieces to a whole.

Michael

that seems to imply that all photographs can only be viewed individually and in isolation? Because as soon as you put two or more pictures together in any kind of sequence - even if they aren't directly related to each other - they have an effect on each other. Whether in a display, book, magazine or whatever.

As soon as you have more than two or three pictures together, intentionally or unintentionally, there is a narrative, even if we don't want it. What you call mediocre pieces are often required as pause or counterpoint or rhythm or echo. You can do this consciously - as in designing a book or gallery or museum display. Or you can ignore it and hope everything doesn't clash - which rarely happens.

The sum of the whole is usually greater than all the parts.

Only if every photograph is only ever meant to be viewed in isolation(and I'm not sure how you even do that?) can each picture really be required to "stand up on it's own" in the way you seem to describe?

The expressive nature of any photogrpah more often than not does depend on context. The more shared the context the more more readily that that expressive nature is received and responded to.

Most people here, in the case of this photograph, have provided their own context - that of having female children, of growing up in the USA or N America, of the pressures of consumer society, of weddings, of photogrpahing children such as this. And they have easily fitted the photograph into these experiences and provided a context. Those seem to have been balanced against anything that might be lacking in the formal qualities of the photograph.

This photograph really only seems to "stands on it's own" as a photograph because of it's broadly shared context with thisd group of viewers.

Taken out of context, it's not that great a photograph at all. In context, it's brilliant

tim atherton
08-18-2006, 11:08 PM
If it is supposed to be art, then it either is, or it is not, and lame titles, captions, or story lines or artist statements will not change that.

Tim R

photographic art can only consist of individual images? (presumably each piece on their own expanse of blank white wall?). I must have missed that rule somewhere?

are you talking about "art to match your sofa"

tim atherton
08-18-2006, 11:22 PM
most of the comments on this photogrpah seem to have drawn quite consciously on the viewers own experiences to try and provide some context to the picture and thus expand its meaning a fair way beyond the quite limited things it actually conveys

David H. Bebbington
08-18-2006, 11:56 PM
photographic art can only consist of individual images? (presumably each piece on their own expanse of blank white wall?). I must have missed that rule somewhere?

are you talking about "art to match your sofa"
This is a tangential issue here, but the strict answer is "Yes." If you're going to present work as single images in frames on a white wall, of course they've got to stand up on their own. This of course presupposes a definition of art as "images saleable in a gallery." Photojournalism, as I and others have remarked, is a different ball game, or at least was in the days when there were magazines that published photo-essays - these need a narrative, a flow, a beginning, middle and end, and are very likely to consist of images which work in context but do not all have (perhaps none have) a "blow your socks off" impact. Images of this kind have not conventionally been given the label "art," today it is more likely that this will happen, since with the demise of the big picture magazines, photo-essays if done at all are most likely to appear as books, exhibition catalogs and exhibitions themselves and to be sold in at least the first two of these forms.

blansky
08-19-2006, 12:12 AM
[QUOTE]that seems to imply that all photographs can only be viewed individually and in isolation? Because as soon as you put two or more pictures together in any kind of sequence - even if they aren't directly related to each other - they have an effect on each other. Whether in a display, book, magazine or whatever.
I agree, they do have an affect. I don't see that as positive or negative, as long as every one can stand alone without the context. If one "needs" the other, then it fails in my opinion.



As soon as you have more than two or three pictures together, intentionally or unintentionally, there is a narrative, even if we don't want it. What you call mediocre pieces are often required as pause or counterpoint or rhythm or echo. You can do this consciously - as in designing a book or gallery or museum display. Or you can ignore it and hope everything doesn't clash - which rarely happens.
I don't believe you need mediocre piece to carry any narrative. Or to enhance or highlight great ones by comparison.



The sum of the whole is usually greater than all the parts.
That may be true. Or the whole may be denegrated by a lot of mediocrity.



Only if every photograph is only ever meant to be viewed in isolation(and I'm not sure how you even do that?) can each picture really be required to "stand up on it's own" in the way you seem to describe?
I made the distinction by saying that a social documentary series could have pieces that were less than great, BUT that is different in my opinion than what most photographers do. The photographer here in question is an example of someone who has a distinct point of view and only includes pictures that propel that position forward. In doing so she has a lot of relatively meaningless images without the context. Such is social documentary photography. It's about the whole. Rarely can any image stand alone.



The expressive nature of any photogrpah more often than not does depend on context. The more shared the context the more more readily that that expressive nature is received and responded to.
Maybe, but the context has to come from the photograph. Not cute titles, or descriptions etc. Granted if the viewers shares lifestyle, culture, it may have more meaning, or maybe just the opposite. I might be very impressed with a picture from Tibet which is not big deal to Tibetans who see it every day.



Most people here, in the case of this photograph, have provided their own context - that of having female children, of growing up in the USA or N America, of the pressures of consumer society, of weddings, of photogrpahing children such as this. And they have easily fitted the photograph into these experiences and provided a context. Those seem to have been balanced against anything that might be lacking in the formal qualities of the photograph.
I can't speak for them. I think the picture has power from the expression or "voguing" of the child.


This photograph really only seems to "stands on it's own" as a photograph because of it's broadly shared context with thisd group of viewers.
Taken out of context, it's not that great a photograph at all. In context, it's brilliant

I disagree. Even though it's from a social documentary, I think this picture is great and can stand alone.


Michael

bjorke
08-19-2006, 12:01 PM
I think that when a photographer decides to make a social documentary with their photographs, it may be a different thing than when a photographer with their built in prejudices and points of view, takes random picture of subjects than interest them.To a degree I think it was a mistake on my part to have introduced the Greenfield shot, for exactly the reason that it's journalism -- it's not meant to hang on a wall except when embedded in a show -- it's meant to be seen in a book, in the company of its sister shots.

The other shots I've quoted, though, are sold in galleries. The lower one is a lovely platinum print and was available at Fraenkel here in San Francisco earlier this year. The upper one is in the collection of Deutsche Bank and is by Gillian Wearing:

http://www.deutsche-bank-kunst.com/art/images/356/17.jpg
It's a photo that's highly-connected to its contexts, both explicit and implied. Like the Greenfield, it carries some dependance on its examination of social roles, roles that extend beyond the framelines of the shot and into the world of the viewer. It requires the viewer to bring with them a host of expectations about what "portrait" means, about the expected social settings for black-tie outfits, etc.

The explicit context (which imo is hugely transformative) comes when the title is added: "Self Portrait as My Father Brian Wearing"