Well, I finally did it. I made into my university’s BFA program. However, one of the comments on my application exhibit hit on something that has been haunting me for the past six months.

“Work needs conceptual and technical development”

This is coupled with a recent comment from one of my roommates who is a BFA painting student. “Your photographs look like postcards, where is the concept”

I will admit I am a fan of Ansel Adams and other modernist photographers, so my work is formally similar. It seems to me that the current art community looks down on landscape photography even though Adams and landscaper painters such as J.M.W Turner are studied and revered.

It seems that currently revered art photography is made by Stephen Shore or William Eggleston clones.

Is concept valued higher that form in contemporary photography? I have seen a lot of technically crappy and uninteresting photographs. It wasn’t Flickr where I found them but the websites of MOMA and MOCP.

I only know of one contemporary photographer, who has been exhibited internationally, that is Amjad Faur. I had him as an instructor for an art history class this semester. His work is solid in technique (8 X 10) and concept. But the work of others looks just as cliché and technically bad as instagram and lomography. The subjects are boring and the photos washed out.

Who are the currently internationally known photographers? Does the gallery/ museum framework of modernism and postmodernism still exist or function today?

Why does a Gursky photograph of a river sell for $4.3 million? Is photography as art dying in the world of mediocrity? Is it more difficult to work conceptually in photography verses other media such as sculpture and painting?

Also, why is necessary to make a social point in art today? When did artists start becoming social activists? What is more important the work or the statement? Are we artists first or something else?

We often talk about the Bauhaus, most of those artists were concerned with the formal qualities. Will photography ever come back to these considerations? Art evolves through reactions to previous movements like straight photography reacting to pictorialism.

Will the philosophy/ art movement of romanticism that encompasses Adams and the Hudson River School painters, come back to the art world?

In short where are we headed as artists? Where is photography been and going?

Sorry, for such a long post but this issue is rather complex.

Kris Johnson