I think I can say this simply: I am NOT an elitist. I do NOT desire to be part of an "elite" group, nor will I support one with that motive.
I have been vilified and ostracized for that very attitude. There are many in the "Art World", or at least in the local art world, who feel that stratification ... where they are considered to be at the "top" level... is necessary - "What else are we doing this for ?" The consequenses of questioning - or even suggesting opposition to that premise can be severe.
I am not so facetiously altruistic that I will claim that I do not notice, or enjoy, a little adulation from time to time, but the question is "How do you get that adulation?". If I have to do anything that will cause grief to another, I refuse. Status, adulation, a "good review", is not worth the penalty I will pay in terms of negative impact to something precious to me ... my belief system.
I CHOOSE an Omar Khayyam approach: I will leave the Oriental Court political maneuvering to those to whom it is important. I only want a place where I can "do" my chosen obsession. With Khayyam, it was mathematics; Mine is photography.
"I think the rose ne'er blows so red
As the grave where some buried Ceasar bled.
A jug of wine, a loaf of bread
And thou, beside me, singing in the wilderness.
Ah, wilderness is paradise enow."
My jug of wine is my camera and film; my bread is light. My wilderness, the studio, darkroom, location, exhibition space.
I may leave this world unrecognized, destitute ... of low social status.
One thing is certain - it will be a long time until the smile leaves my face - if ever.
I've always agreed with Woody Allen on this one.
I'd never join a club that would allow a person like me to become a member. - Woody Allen
It seems to be OK to talk about "elite athletes". Using one's physical gifts to achieve world class performance is acceptable. When it comes to political, intellectual and artistic pursuits it seems to become more of a pejorative term. (Elitist = snob) In Australian politics it is used by the right wing government and its talkback radio parrots to deride anyone on the left with power, money or influence. It seems shocking to the right that anyone with money or power should not share their views, therefore making theme "elitist" i.e. they are really acting superior to their underlying support base and therefore being hypocritical or disingenuous about their beliefs. Clever politics because it is primarily the right side of politics and business with the money, power and influence making them the elite; not the "champagne socialists".
Would I like to be known as an "elite photographer". Probably not. Would I refer to the so-called masters of photography as the "elite" of this art form? Probably an acceptable phrase in the right context but the word has been poisoned a bit lately.
I knew anti-intellectualism had a long and sorry history in the US, of which the dual use of the term 'elite' is a symptom, but didn't know it was shared elsewhere in the English-speaking world. I'm very sad now, may go back to bed.
"Or as another friend pointed out when I mentioned fencing at school, "The working classes don't fence."
Here in the Western US with ranches and farms a lot of us fence. Days spent traipsing over the mountains with a horse loaded with extra barbed wire, posthole digger and other assorted stuff to fix the fences that break down with the winter snows...
Or did you mean the stuff with swords? Maybe that IS elitest?
At any rate, many believe that those who use larger than 35mm are 'elitest'. We run into that where I live often. Must be something about others having what you don't. And yes, the term is not one of complementing those who take the time to haul around the bigger gear or spend more time on their images.
For some reason it goes hand in hand with the idea of "artsy-fartsy" and "hoity-toity" as derogatory monikers given to those who take time with their work. Go to a gallery and see the work of those who spend the time to do their very best and listen to some comments. Often not praise but denigrating. It is too bad this happens. Even if I don't like the work I know the photographer is actually doing something rather than sitting back and watching while repeating the tired old refrain of 'I could have done that'.
I've been through the my-school-is-better-than-yours circles since after high school, and I don't think there's one word that made me more unconfortable than being called "elite." Why? Because it is always carried with a sense of entitlement. My CEGEP professors (a bastard school degree between high school and uni in Québec) used to call us the elite, and by doing so they implied that our status entailed automatic success, and that we deserved thus a bigger part of the cake. That made me sick.
So I haven't retreated to a blind egalitarianism. I believe in quality, work, effort and success, but as something that is earned.
Take Brasil in the World Cup for instance. Weren't they the elite? Weren't they supposed to win without shedding an eyelash? Yes! And they lost miserably. That, in sum, is the failure of such conception of "elite" : you rest on your laurels even when they catch fire.
Using film since before it was hip.
"One of the most singular characters of the hyposulphites, is the property their solutions possess of dissolving muriate of silver and retaining it in considerable quantity in permanent solution" — Sir John Frederick William Herschel, "On the Hyposulphurous Acid and its Compounds." The Edinburgh Philosophical Journal, Vol. 1 (8 Jan. 1819): 8-29. p. 11
Or as Miss Jean Brodie put it, "La Crème de la Crème". The thing about cream (and élites) is that it can easily "go off" given the right circumstances; i.e. it's very vulnerable to, and therefore resistant to, change of any sort.
That's why élites run the risk of getting their heads chopped off (either that and/or turning very smelly) and therefore they're best avoided at all costs.