Sometimes even the most dubious characters in a mystery novel have a lot to say. In Ben Aaronovitch’s Whispers Underground, an artist speaks his mind: “There’s no point asking what a piece of work means, you know? If we could express it in words, do you think we would have spent all that time bisecting a cow or pickling a shark? Do you think bisecting a cow is somebody’s idea of a fun fucking afternoon? And then to have stupid people come up to you and say, ‘It’s very interesting, but is it art?’ – yes, it’s fucking art. Do you think I’m planning to eat the fecking thing?” (p. 285)
I kind of like the reasoning here: Art can be defined by the use we make of it. And it is hard to talk about. So why not try to understand it non-verbally? That’s what my March/April project is about. You can participate! Details can be found here and on the ‘2015 Projects’ pages.
Making pictures helps me understand history and memory as well as architecture or nature or the aesthetics of a movie. In contrast to scientific understanding, I would like to call the insight I find using photographs aesthetic understanding. The goal may well be beyond language.
Now this idea seems to be supported by a rather new book about visiting museums. Among other things, the author suggests we make photos of the works we see: “Taking pictures is also a way of connecting to and participating in the art, as it unleashes our excitement and involvement. Taking a clever picture can lead to more meaningful interaction with art. […] Challenge yourself, not by attempting to capture the artwork itself, but your experience of it.” (Johan Idema, How To Visit a Museum. Tips for a Truly Awarding Visit. Amsterdam: BIS, 2014)
The pictures in this post were taken at an art school where I happened to visit a students’ exhibition a couple of weeks ago. The works were on display in the studios, giving the exhibition an atmosphere of authenticity and immediacy, making the visitors part of it all.
Once I started tracking the unexpected for the Weekly Photo Challenge, I came across a couple of fairly different subjects. In this case, I’d already planned to combine the two (very different representations of femininity) but lacked a good title – the challenge took care of that. I found these statues at Les Jardins du Pays d’Auge (left) and Château de Vascoeuil (right).
The left picture shows many objects – me photographing stuff, actually. It was inspired by Susan Sontag’s essays on photography: The mere act of making a photograph, Sontag says, re-evaluates the stuff we find because taking a picture equals claiming that the subject is deserves to be looked at – even ugly objects become ‘nice’ in photograph. Hence Sontag’s idea that photography aesteticizes the whole world.
Though I find a lot of inspiration in texts, pictures inspire me too: I ‘found’ the right one after visiting an Ellsworth Kelly exhibition entitled “Black and White”. This abstract picture with me in it may well be a reaction to (or inspired by) the pictures I saw. – While all this describes my motivation to photograph, this blog is really inspired by my love of photography, and the desire to share my pictures and see what you think.