Seydou Keita, "Authentic" Prints
An interesting article in NY Times concerning controversy surrounding prints from Seydou Keita negatives. A couple of interesting statements:
"When it comes to photography, authenticity is artificial." (Julia Scully)
the resolution of photographic negatives is far greater than that of the prints made from them. The negatives, you might say, contain a far greater amount of information than can be shown, placing those who make prints in the position of having to select and suppress the information that will ultimately appear.
"Too often," he(Charles Griffin )says, "printers are influenced by the preference wealthy collectors have for highly graphic images."
van Huyck Photo
"Progress is only a direction, and it's often the wrong direction"
Interesting article. Thanks for sharing. Rebekah
I dislike soundbites. Here is the context for what Ms Scully said:
There are many reasons why posterity might regard Cartier-Bresson and Mr. Ke´ta differently: Cartier-Bresson was white, French and received important European commissions early in his career, whereas Mr. Ke´ta was a self-taught black African of modest ambitions for whom photography was, most of all, a job. Still, Brian Wallis, the director of exhibitions and chief curator of the International Center of Photography, describes the issue of what to do with new prints from the negatives of any deceased photographer as "one of the most vexing in photography." Sandra Phillips, senior curator of photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, pointed out that earlier photographers barely noticed how their work was printed. "It was the image, not the print, that was all important," she said. "Photographers would literally drop their negatives off at magazines or museums and let the editors and curators decide how the photographs were to be developed."
Julia Scully, the former editor of Modern Photography, said that "the idea that the vintage or limited-edition print is of special value has been promoted by collectors and gallery owners, who, having witnessed the recent increase in the market value of photography, seek to protect their investments. When it comes to photography, authenticity is artificial."
As a photograph (or any other work of art) is separated in time from the cultural context in which it originated, the work becomes open to new meanings. This idea, perhaps first articulated in Walter Benjamin's landmark 1931 essay, "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction," has been embraced by many curators in recent years, leading them away from what Mr. Wallis refers to as the "fetish for the vintage." Instead curators are more open to the new meanings that may emerge from manipulating the originals, even if those meanings are different from - or in direct contrast to - anything the artist had in mind.
The result is ripe with possibilities, but also with contradictions. It is now not uncommon for galleries to put on shows that reflect this postmodern approach but at the same time to charge higher prices for original works.
"One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid,
and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision"