The Best Photographs I saw in 2011 that I Haven’t Already written about yet

- - Art, From The Field

by Jonathan Blaustein

Time is like an apathetic teenager. We see it as linear, because it’s easier for our brains that way. But many of us know it’s relative. That information does us little good, though, when we’re late to work, and Grandma in the car in front of us is savoring every last second. At twenty miles an hour.

The only thing to match the monotony of the march of time is the certainty of change. The second law of thermodynamics and all. We like to think we stay the same, remain true to ourselves, but it’s just an illusion, no more real than a flogborgibbit. Change is the normal state of things, far more natural than a charge of flip-flopping, but the very epithet tells you all you need to know about most people’s view of the inevitable.

I’ve come to accept and even relish change, myself. I enjoy the opportunity to work on my faults, to modify my behavior, whether it be evolution or revolution. I’ve had it both ways, massive epiphanies that alter my soul in a day, or a slow, daily slide into sloth and misery. (Freshman year at Duke, it took only months for a skinny, mostly well-adjusted goody-goody to metamorphose into a fat, drunken ball of insecurities who…well, we’ll save that one for another time.)

Change is a function of time, and time is the bedrock of our chosen medium, photography. Light is the more popular sibling, as time is far more challenging to manipulate. It’s difficult for photography to match video when it comes to processing duration, but difficult, as we’ve often seen, does not mean impossible.

It’s probably not surprising that I’d bloviate on this subject, what with the end of the year upon us. I’m either the most philosophical blogger in the world, or it’s biggest jackass, and I suppose we’ll each have our own opinion on the subject. But I have seen a lot of photographs this year, and written about most of what I’ve seen. New York, twice, LA, Washington DC; not a bad lineup. Ironically, for two years running, I haven’t been able to shoehorn some of my favorite work into an article. Despite the thousands of words, there just wasn’t room in the narrative thread for great photographs, by the same photographer, in both 2010 and 2011: Rineke Dijkstra.

So here at APE, we’ll now christen a new feature, “The Best Photographs I saw in 2011 that I Haven’t Already written about yet.” Rolls off the tongue nicely. Here we go.

Last year, it was at the Met, in a fantastic curated show that included a copy of Ed Ruscha’s “Every Building on the Sunset Strip.” Somehow, I ended up writing only about John Baldessari, and Ms. Dijkstra’s incredible series about a young refugee girl got left on the cutting room floor.

This year, I saw her work at the Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA), on a sunny summer San Diego sojourn. (I was always a sucker for alliteration in school. Easy way to score points with the teacher.) Back in July, I snuck down from my beach abode in North County to visit an exhibition of the Bank of America permanent collection, curated by MOPA’s Executive Director, Debra Klochko. (And in case you were wondering, B of A did not cover the admission cost, thereby missing out on a relatively inexpensive way to burnish their horrible public image.)

On a very big wall, right behind the admission desk, was a seven image photo series, installed sequentially, by the aforementioned famous Dutch artist. Each featured a handsome young Frenchman named Olivier Silva, who was about to embark on a stint in the French Foreign Legion. (Insert random French joke here.) The framed prints, all largish, were exhibited in a temporal sequence that transpired between 2000-3, during Mr. Silva’s military service.

In the first image, we see a skinny, innocent looking 17 year old, (give or take) with a full head of hair. Unquestionably, his eyes say, “Oh shit. I’m not so sure about this.” In the next, from the same day in 2000, he’s just had his head shaved, and has got the camo outfit on. His look says, “True, I’m not sure about this, but I suppose I’ll give it a shot.”

Number 3 is from a few months later, still in France. Now he’s got the face paint, is rocking the shaved head thing, and he’s trying to be tough. Definitely seems sad. And on to the next. Here, Olivier is in pristine dress, but still looks like he misses his Maman. By now, his face has filled out a bit. Same month, about to ship out.

The fifth photograph, almost a year and a half later, and now we’re in Corsica. (Chasing Mafiosi?) Homeboy is wearing the most ridiculous Foreign Legion cap, like something out of a Peter Sellers movie. Squinting into the sun, his shoulders are fuller, and he has the vibe that he could have killed someone by now, but probably hasn’t. The burgundy epaulettes are just too much. Finally, a bit of humor.

Next to last, and the guy looks like an action hero. You start to wonder, did Ms. Dijkstra know it all along, that the skinny kid had the movie star looks right beneath the surface? It’s the first time you think about her, as the first five were so natural, and the expressions so believable. By the way, he’s in Djibouti. (Between Ethiopia and Eritrea, two countries that don’t like each other very much.) And that last bit of farm-boy is still there. Barely.

For the last photo, Olivier Silva is looking directly into the camera, his drab marine colored T-shirt offering more about his character than his dead, militarized eyes. Inscrutable. He’s been thoroughly socialized through the system, they’ve made a good soldier out of the boy. Ready to kill, if necessary. It’s July of 2003, three years after the process began.

And then it’s over. And you begin to think, those expressions, the clues I read to deduce Silva’s character, they’re something the photographer has created. They’re a window into a linear, stop-motion jaunt into some random guy’s history, sure. It happened. But the series toys with the notion of the document, and with my immediate faith that what I was seeing was real, beyond the interpersonal connection between the young Frenchman and the artist, Ms. Dijkstra. Tremendous stuff.

I didn’t end up writing about it this Summer, because I skipped San Diego for the bustle of the Megalopolis up the coast. So there you have it. “The Best Photographs I saw in 2011 that I Haven’t Already written about yet.” Happy New Year.

Jonathan Blaustein

There Are 78 Comments On This Article.

  1. I know that direct, confrontational portraits on neutral backgrounds with flat light are all the rage.
    Unfortunately, this does not make them into anything but passport photo type snaps.
    Always surprises me when others see more that than in them.

    • This type of photograph is not “all the rage”. It’s been a viable approach, to a subject, since the advent of the camera. Polaroid transfers and Hosemaster were rages. I find it odd, that many of my peers, especially the ones that have be shooting for over 20 years, fail to look at photographs, beyond technique. Technique may be important in making a good image, but has little to do with making a great image.

      I can’t imagine how different lighting, backgrounds or props, would have improved these photographs and the idea behind them. These are simple and engaging. Ms. Dijkstra is a master at this type of image making.

      It’s the old argument. When looking at art, which do you ask first? How it was done or why it was done? I’ve always been more intrigued by the why? How never much mattered.

    • Just curious, Michal. But did you even read the article? Because if you had, you probably wouldn’t be “surprised” that I saw something valuable. I was pretty clear on what’s exceptional about the project.

    • “visual concept” IS a technique.

      There aren’t many photo series that could be shown without some “paragraphs” of explanation to put them in some context.

      I respect you not appreciating the aesthetic but while it seems like a “snapshot” (used derisively here, by you) it is more difficult than you think to approach a subject head on, with NO artifice and let the subtlety be captured. In it’s purest form, it is wonderful.

      • Nothing I posted was “derisive.” In my personal work, I have relied on “snapshot photography” almost exclusively.
        I have also practiced direct, confrontational portraiture many, many times. I’d supply you with a link to them, but I will not, because everyone here would likely assume I am trying to advertise my stuff, instead of pointing out the differences in approach.
        I am fully aware that many, many people adore this type of neutral background, flat light portraiture. Obviously, I do not.
        Pardon me for having my own, very personal view of this!

        • You said that snapshot photography makes them into nothing more than “passport photo type snaps”. Is that not derisive? Explain yourself if I am misunderstanding your words.

          I said that I respect your point of view.

          • It is my view of the photos. It is negative. It is not derisive.
            To quote the dictionary:
            derisive [dɪˈraɪsɪv -zɪv]
            adj
            showing or characterized by derision; mocking; scornful
            I meant no mocking or scorn. I simply found these images ineffective.
            Best!

      • Rob, sometimes people really just like to hear themselves talk. Michal, I surmised everything that I wrote from the photos, and the dates and places in which they were taken. Nothing else was necessary. And to be clear, I was looking at large, framed prints on a wall, not jpegs on an Iphone. Really, man, you can choose not to like the work, but to imply that Ms. Dijkstra is a hack, not much point in that.

        • Jonathan, please! I DID NOT imply – in any way, shape or form – that “Ms. Dijkstra is a hack.” She is CLEARLY not a hack!
          Why do both of you feel the necessity to behave like I am some sort of an enemy? Have we now come to the point where insults are the only way to counter legitimate, educated, unthreatening points of view?
          So sad!

          • Michal, I’m a bit confused. You seem to be taking this process a bit personally. I haven’t insulted you even once. You started this train of thought by saying, “Unfortunately, this does not make them into anything but passport photo type snaps.”

            That’s a bit of an incendiary statement, under the circumstances. Yes, you didn’t use the word hack directly. But the sentence I quoted definitely implies it. So let’s just move on here. You don’t like Ms. Dijkstra’s work, or at least this photo series. I loved it, you didn’t. No harm, no foul.

            • I feel that none of this discussion is a waste. I firmly believe that hashing things out is how we move forward, and learn. My skin is thick, so no insults really stick, while allowing interesting ideas to penetrate.
              Best!

  2. Is there any particular reason for insulting me by calling may posts “trolling?”
    I am a professional, self-emplyed photographer. Have been for over three decades.
    I am very familiar with portraiture, given the fact that about 99% of what I do is people photography.
    I came here to comment, with all seriousness, with my own point of view. I don’t think I deserved to be belittled by you for that.
    But be that as it may, not my problem.
    Jonathan, yes I read the article. My point is: without the article the images are – in my personal opinion – not effective.
    A photo should not need a thousand words to explain it. Again, that is my opinion.
    Your milage will vary!
    Happy New Year to All, and may we all make images that make people feel something.

    • Happy New Year to you as well, Michal. I have no problem with the fact that you don’t like these photographs. I didn’t make them. And we do expect people to tell us what they think in the comment section.

      When we look at art, we all form our own opinions. It’s my role to look, think, and then share my impressions. We’ll never know what you might have thought had you seen this photo series on the wall. And even if you’d seen the show and hated the pictures, that’s still a valuable experience to have. We don’t only learn from the things we like.

      • Thank you, Jonathan!
        This time, we completely agree. I have often viewed work I initially absolutely hated, only to learn later that this work would simply not leave my head and soul, meaning it ended up meaning a lot to me.
        Thank you for taking the time to respond to my comments.
        Best!

  3. Any one of them alone could potentially be seen as a “passport photo”. It’s the chronological series that makes them something more, with or without Blaustein’s commentary. However, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with words and photos working together to create something “bigger”.

    • My father, a film maker, used to say, “If the Chinese don’t understand what you did, without subtitles, you failed.” I agree with him. Always did.
      Best!

      • Donnor Party

        I thought the statement, taken from viewing the photos was clear, without the need for any text. It begins with a boy, ends with a man.

        By the way, he has earned the cape blanc and his parachute wings in the “Peter Sellers” frame. This is an acheivement. Not many make it that far.

  4. One more thing to add. It may surprise all whose point of view differs from mine of the above work, but I was touched by this – similar subject matter – series:
    http://www.feeldesain.com/18371.html
    Yes, the light is just as flat in these photos as in the above series. But, for some reason which I do not fully understand, they really connect with my soul.
    Best!

  5. Interviewer: Do you think Avedon has been influenced by your work

    Louise Dahl Wolfe: I would say he was at first, but I think his work has never been as good since he threw away his Rolleiflex
    He should have stuck with that camera. His 10×8 work reminds me of passport photographs.

    Sorry couldnt resist it.

    • Comparing this work to Avedon’s strikes me as misguided.
      Because he was able to imbue his work with phenomenal feeling, which I find completely missing in the above work.
      Yes, I knew Avedon. His work and him, in person. If you don’t believe me, I can post my portrait of him. I will not, unless you ask me to.
      In any case, this is NOT Avedon type work. Period.

      • I think most of us can agree that Avedon was a prolific, master photographer. Ms. Dijkstra is also a prolific, master photographer. At least some of us think so. It is obvious that they differ. They photographed for different reasons. Neither is better than the other. Just different.

        Michal, not sure how you knowing and having taken a photograph of Avedon, has anything to do with the topic at hand? If you are implying that this makes you an expert in Avedon, that’s fine. Are you equally an expert in Dijkstra?

  6. Actually I think Avedon was the master of this approach to portrait work. There was something about it that always created a gritty-reality that made his subjects really stand out. I dont know maybe it was the black and white, the type of contrast or the lighting but his technique was constant from subject to subject. I think the portraits in this article would have been much stronger if the photographer employed a similar treatment. I see variations of lighting and background tones that I find a bit distracting.

  7. Let me think about this a second… my child is going to his first day of school. I decide to photograph him against the school’s shaded wall – all happy and excited. I continue to photograph him every month on the same spot until school ends. On the last day what photograph would you expect to see – obviously, one that represented what transformation he has gone through, good or bad. This story line is what’s so trite about these images. a French infantryman makes for some visual meat on the bone, but hey… the same portrait idea was shot by and of me 25 years ago when I joined the military. It’s the softness of the concept that just doesn’t move the bar for me or Michal.

  8. The individual prints alone, not so much. Put them together and you can’t get away from a story, no matter how you slice it. It has an impact. If she made portraits of 9 different kids going into the FFL using the same technique, the story would be different but have the same amount of impact.

    JB wonderful on the accompanying write up. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

    • Exactly the point, which is obvious simply looking at them as a progression of change without even reading J.B.’s words, which open thoughts relating to the photographer and her original idea. But on the subject of Avedon’s work we’re in a different world, one he came to define that has a power all his own.

  9. Craig Murphy

    I think this series of photographs is one of the better uses of photography that I have seen in a while. Thumbs up to the photographer. Makes me want to talk to this kid to hear what he has to say about his life and the metamorphosis he has gone through.

  10. blake andrews

    I don’t necessarily agree with Michal but I’m disappointed in the reaction to his comments. To me he’s not a troll, just someone with a contrary view. I wish more people online came forth with dissenting views, especially in reaction to popular work such as Dijkstra’s.

    • Calling someone a troll simply for making a comment with which you disagree is insulting and disrespectful and says more about the person making the comment than it does about the intended target.

      • read through all the comments and agree, apologies might be suitable maybe it was intended to stir up the comment section a bit as it has been a bit flat the last year since the introduction of daily edits….

      • I don’t care if people disagree with me I only care that they treat the writers and people we write about with respect. Anyone leaving comment after comment after comment is a troll.

    • god. if I had a dollar for every comment that the technique or idea behind a picture was too simple to be worthy of attention I could pay Jonathan for a year. it would be nice if people had enough respect to actually go look at the work like we did and give their opinion.

      • With some images, some printing techniques, first hand observation provides more information. On these images (which are somewhat conceptual based) I don’t see how or why a personal viewing will add significant depth to the work or the viewing experience. Please explain what a firsthand view will add to this work.

        • Hi Bob,

          While I don’t want to add to the contentiousness of the trail above, I do have to jump in here. You’ve been leaving negative/critical/argumentative comments on my articles for a while now, and it’s always the same thing. You harshly judge the jpegs, and yet seem to enjoy the writing. But jpegs are not prints, Bob. Little screen avatars are not the same thing as a large object in the real world. I’m writing about one, and you’re criticizing the other.

          If you want Rob or me to explain the difference, then I’d suggest that you just spend a bit more time in your local Art museum. Look for yourself. Don’t you live in Michigan? How about a trip to Detroit, or even Chicago. Go to the Art Institute and the MOCP. Then you can share your experiences with us in the comment section, down the line.

          • Jonathan – It seems most anything which differs from your opinion is “negative/critical/argumentative”. How does one communicate a differing opinion with you or provide feedback? This is not a rhetorical question. Please explain to us what you expect, how are we supposed to provide feedback? Or maybe you’d like to provide our feedback for us?

            Your piece here is not only an opinion (one single opinion) but it is a self reflection on that opinion. It appears to be you talking to yourself about the wonder of your (individual) experience with this work. Fine. But why does someone else’s experience and opinion of work take anything away from yours? You are writing about conceptual work, but then you get upset when others think, reason, comment and those thoughts don’t reflect your own?

            Rob – There is no escaping technique, it is embodied in all work.

            I’ll ask the question again: Please explain (specifically) what a firsthand view will add to this work? This is a conceptual piece or group of images. The concept comes across as a jpeg or a larger print. Great work can be explained and understood, this is especially true of a concept. If the work is purely subjective, why is any one person’s opinion more important?

            btw – I live in a metropolitan city (not Michigan) with first rate galleries, and museums, and have done my own color and BW printing for over 20 years. I know about first hand viewing.

            • Bob- I’m amazed at how demanding you are of all my contributors, telling them to provide you with stats on this and explain that, yet you’re unable to contribute one tiny morsel of helpful information in the comments.

              • Rob – I am one opinion, responding to comments directed towards me. Maybe my questions and comments provide (“helpful”)value to (some) others. Critical analysis can be helpful to those willing to listen. Why do my comments and questions take anything away from your blog or other contributors?

                There is an attitude on this thread and many other threads here: we are the experts, don’t ask difficult questions or post opinions not inline with our own. I probably should have taken note of this more in the past, but thank you for very clearly bringing it to my attention today. I’ll spend much less time here in the future.

                • perfect.

                  no, this is not one of those free-for-all internet forums. I’m in charge.

                  yes, I prefer the opinions of experts. it’s so easy to be critical when you don’t have to make a living at it.

  11. scott Rex Ely

    This is not my quote, but I think because who said it has some relevence to this conversation and Michal’s comments.
    “For me, blogs are not really interesting, I find it tedious to sift through opinions.”

  12. I enjoy reading the comments as much as the post. To the degree that things don’t descend into name calling (and even then, I suppose) the comments reveal a lot about differing emotional and intellectual responses to a work. Many people would have descended into name calling whereas Michal remained civil and even gave an example of a similar work that reached him. I’m showing this thread to my students at the beginning of the semester as a launchpad to talk about commenting since I’m expecting them to think about how they assess other people’s work.

  13. Michal, thank you for the calm level headed interaction. Apparently having an opinion and posting it here is disrespectful, and derisive if it differs with the editor and writer’s *opinion*. After re-reading the text, it seems you were not only providing a differing opinion about the work, but providing an opinion which differs from the writer’s (inflated) self reflection about the work. Maybe that is what sparked your second opinion? Almost certainly this accounts for the over reaction from the writer.

    Could the editor provide a formal declaration about what constitutes a troll or a disrespectful post on this blog? I appreciate having a blog like this in the photography community, but it’s almost a given others will have differing opinions. Allowing those opinions is also a given. A great deal of the value here is the community interaction. How would this blog feel if it was all fanboy, me too, or no comment section at all?

    • Bob,
      First of all, how about we take this a bit less seriously? I included a link to Animal House in the article after all. (I can only assume no one clicked…) I called myself fat, drunk and stupid. Did you think that was totally serious? Much of what I’m writing is satirical, and meant to amuse. Did that not come across?

      You’ve been leaving negative comments for a couple of months now. We’re engaging in an asymmetrical dialogue here. You know my name, what my work looks like, and you’re reading my articles on a regular basis. You also know all about Rob. We’ve put ourselves out there, and regularly accept criticism on our efforts. Weekly. It’s a part of the job. (Furthermore, I believe in this particular case I treated Michal with respect. He said as much himself.)

      But I don’t know anything about you, other than your first name, and that you tend to disagree with my opinions. If you want to develop a meaningful dialogue, why not give us your name? And your website. It’s not like you’re sharing state secrets and need an alter ego…is it?

      I can understand how people got so riled up about this comment trail, if not the work that sparked the article. Rineke Dijkstra is among the most famous and successful artists in the world. When you judge the work, it’s best to do so having seen it for real. Scale matters. Details emerge. Sharpness pops. Colors read differently on a print than on a computer screen. If nothing else, think of it as looking at a 1GB file instead of 16K. And walking up and down a line of photographs in a Museum is inherently different than moving a scroll bar.

      I always, always tell people that the first question to ask in front of a piece of art is “Do I like it.” If not, that’s valid. But not liking something is not the same thing as dismissing it’s value to others, or denying that there’s any right for it to be appreciated.

      Regardless, I do appreciate that you continue to read the articles, and hope that you enjoy your first Haruki Murakami book in the near future. I thought that dialogue you had with “Steps” was interesting.

      • Jonathan, thanks for the comment. I don’t have time to address your thoughts right now. I will respond when I am able.

      • What is reflected on this page so far suggests responding may be a waste of time, but I said I would so I’ll follow through.

        The reason I feel more articulation may be a waste of time is earlier communication has not produced a genuine response. When we attempt to communicate by asking direct questions is it not disingenuous when the questions are ignored?

        I see your column as an opinion piece. One of your readers posted an opinion which is different than yours. You got upset, Rob got upset.
        What do you want, only those opinions that agree with yours?
        Why are differing opinions “negative”? If you wrote about a food you loved and a reader posted a comment with their dislike for that food would you get upset, would it also be negative?

        Now you suggest chilling out (after a few readers posted some very reasonable comments), but who got uptight, and why get up tight if it’s not to be taken seriously?

        Why take feedback personally (as “criticism”)?
        There are billions of other people on the planet. Would it not be a dead place without diversity (including diversity of opinion)? Most of the art you post opinions about have a conceptual quality. Ideas are about thought. Why get upset when readers think and comment? Or we can take all of this as just subjective opinions. Why get upset that someone else has a different opinion? Possibly we could fall back on religion, and listen to the prophets (experts, gurus, critics). Will they change our beliefs (opinions)? Maybe, maybe to a degree, maybe not.

        I’ve made the choice to remain anonymous – my choice. The nature of (poor) communication on the internet (the irrational, emotional, distorted, etc.) is one reason why. Does a full name provide any more “meaningful dialogue”? Why not judge people’s words thoughts ideas on their own merit? How would Bob Smith (with or without a website) add or subtract to a well reasoned comment? What if he doesn’t have a website? What if he is not a photographer? Is it possible for someone outside these criteria to provide a valid comment? Is one person’s opinion any more superior to another’s? If you like hotdogs and Bob doesn’t, is either opinion better?

        fyi – All I know about Rob is he was an editor of a print magazine, editor and host of this page, has a website building business? All I remember about you is a piece of art about money? I come here for content, ideas, and at least for awhile it was (maybe still is) a well viewed part of the photography community.

        With regard to the art I’ve said very little. You start out with comments about the conceptual nature of this work, but when that is questioned you then waiver over to the emotional (subjective) side of the work, suggesting there is something which can not be experienced without a first hand viewing. Good work (in any field) can be discussed, described, articulated, examined. This is especially true of conceptual work. (In science work can be tested to determine validity). Most art work (maybe all art work) is not 100% conceptual. There is a subjective nature or component to the work. I’ll agree colors on monitors are not the same as colors in person. What colors does Rineke Dijkstra see on her monitor, how much difference between the prints? Seeing work in person can add another dimension, how much does it add? As humans we understand our world through our experiences. After we (as image makers) have seen the computer screen version in comparison to the print version or real time version enough times we can develop an awareness of what to expect. Even if our expectations are different from the alternative viewing experience just how much is this difference? Is it a revelation? A completely different understanding? Can we read the emotion on the face of the subject in this thread? Just how much will a first hand viewing change our perceptions? 10%, 50%? (Another question, how much do these photos (or most photos) reveal about this person?)

        My brief thoughts on the images. I see a vulnerability in the subject (not the photographer) in all the images. He’s grown a few years. Isn’t this the case with many people and photographs of people (especially youth) over a 3 year period of time? Can we see this point illustrated elsewhere? The images are interesting and provide a view of life I may not have seen otherwise, but so does the radio shows I listen to regularly. The work does not blow me away. I would not hang these images in my home or studio. I might consider them as an investment if I was a wealthy collector.

        If Rineke Dijkstra likes hotdogs and Bob Smith doesn’t, so what?
        If the art world today likes hotdogs will they still like hotdogs 40 years from now?
        (Ask a museum curator or director to show you the art in the basement. The stuff that has fallen from favor between now and the time it was purchased. Look at the fluctuations of insured values for art – up and down). The art world is made of human beings, it is in flux, fallible, has it’s own bias, hierarchies, etc. Rineke Dijkstra is well favored now, in a highly subjective arena.

        Looking forward to Murakami, thank you.

        • Bob,

          Critical comments are welcome if they can be backed up. I’m only interested in the opinions of professionals, even in the comments. I’d rather turn the comments off completely than listen to hacks.

          The comments HAVE to be moderated so that the writers and subjects give honest answers. I have plenty of experience with people changing their responses because of the comments they know will come and personally, I would never write with the honesty I once did because of all negative comments that have been left for me.

          This is how I chose to moderate them. I’ve been told for the last 5 years straight that if I behave this way in the comments 1.This blog will no longer be interesting/influential 2.We will only get sycophants commenting. Hasn’t come true yet but I don’t really care either way. There have been plenty of Bob’s before you. They leave hundreds of comments and questions then one day we never hear from them again and then the next Bob comes along.

          You should thank me for allowing you to comment freely and anonymously. It is a privilege not a right.

          Rob Haggart

  14. Not to completely derail this thread…

    Bob, are you the same “Bob” from one of the Richard Prince discussions from 2010? If you are, we went back and forth a bit with our point of views at that time.

    A few months ago I had an epiphany. I was in my favourite bookstore and they had a copy of Prince’s “Second House”. I picked it up to give it a browse and it was like being hit over the head with a brick. I got it. Him, his art, the whole package. It was quite a shock for me on many levels and I re-visited the thread of our discussion to send you a note but realized that there wasn’t a link to you and seeing that the thread was quite old I didn’t want to post in it.

    I haven’t become a Prince apologist, and on a commercial level I can’t endorse his methods, but I will say to you that I believe you were right.

    If this isn’t the same Bob, then carry on….

    • Hey Victor – Yes, those are my comments regarding Richard Prince. Thank you for the comment. I don’t have time to go back and re-read the thread. I don’t love Prince’s work, but I do see some validity in his process as I understand it.

      The market is fractured. It’s messy. There are seeming contradictions, very little is simple and straightforward. Many are trying to stake out their own niche or turf, toes get stepped, lines get crossed, life overlaps. A great deal of our human cultural ways are becoming fractured, strained, changed, developed… After decades of observation of our world (arts, fashion, photography, business, commerce) I find much of it (especially if there is commerce involved) to be smoke and mirrors, hype, the emperor’s new clothes, subjective! The most important thing is to stay healthy, try to be happy, do our best to make a living, and do work which creates meaning in your OWN life – because we can’t easily control meaning in other lives. Have a great year!

  15. I/eye admire simple, honest, direct portraiture such as Ms. Dijkstra’s work highlighted above. I’d love to see them in person, their visual/emotional impact would be heightened IMO and I would walk away with a greater understanding of the subject if I were immersed into their portraiture standing a few feet away.

  16. Great article about some great photographs, I have her book with these and often peruse through it before setting out to shoot portraits. Just a quick note though, the last two images in the article are inversed, changing the original sequence we see on the wall.