I was reading in the Gaurdian here, about Mishka Henner’s new work less Americans, and it made me reflect again on post modernism. I have read and re-read the article a couple of times and I have to say that, although I respect his right to make the sort of work he makes, these pictures don’t do anything for me in themselves.
One of the things that I find interesting is the amount of vitriole in the comments section below the article here and also in the British Journal of photography. Comments like this one “Nothing like eating the corpse of good photographs from the past. Take your own damn photos you little piece of excrement.” Which is a bit strong! It makes me wonder, funny how the reaction to Frank’s original work was similar. At the time he was accused of being unable to take a proper photograph. Also this comment, which is hardly original (haha!) “I remember using the same technique in the late ’60s when I was about 5. Good old days hehe. No fancy computers or photoshop, just a pair of scissors and my grandma’s magazines. It never made the news but I’m glad to see someone gets featured fooling around. About time to cancel my BJP subscription anyway”
This section from the article is quite relevant I think“It’s a manifesto opposed to the idea of the purity of photography, opposed to the idea that there is one right way of doing things. “An example of this, is a student who told me she hadn’t taken any pictures all week and had nothing to show me,” says Henner, who is a visiting lecturer at Stockport College and the University of Central Lancashire. “I asked her if she had uploaded anything to Facebook and she said yes, loads of pictures. But she couldn’t see that the Facebook pictures were just as valid and maybe even more interesting than what she saw as the ‘Proper Photographs’.” proper photography is not what we take with a camera phone and load onto Facebook.
“There’s a fetishisation of vintage work where the images are seen as untouchable; but we are living in a digital age where data can be wiped out immediately and our relationship to images has changed how we see and process photographs. Images circulate incredibly freely and rapidly and then, just as quickly, they disappear and the memory is lost. With Less Américains, I want to ask what happens when you do that to older work, where on the one hand the images are recognisable, but on the other they are also new images. This piece interests me too, I feel he is making a point about the way we take and use images today, is it any more disrespectful to do what he has done than the way Robert Frank’s work is scattered all over the internet? Surely the its more disrespectful to glance at it without full attention or to make it just another book on a shelf? Or does his work draw attention back to the original?