Monday, 30 May 2011

Book fair

This Saturday I'll be joining my Unit 6 group in presenting our publications at X Marks the Bokship in Bethnal Green, an independent art book shop which does much to promote self publishing with various talks and events. They've ben kind enough to host our event so if your in the area pop by and check it out!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

A return to form

I first saw Walead Beshty's work at the Tate Trienniel a couple of years back, where curator Nicolas Bourriaud had selected a number of his photogram works alongside his glass Fed Ex boxes as part of the exhibition. The show, which attempted (whilst not quite succeding) to propose a new stage in the trajectory of postmodernism - Altermodern - essentially brought together a large number of artists loosely connected by their work's capacity to address the globalised world we inhabit today. Seen in this context it is easy to see why Beshty was chosen, his photograms alluding to the X-Ray machines encountered at Airport security checks - indeed, this is how they are made, with negatives being passed through the machines and then prints being made from the results - and the Fed Ex boxes an obvious symbol of trade and globalised travel, their transit to and from exhibitions leaving visible traces in the gradual cracking of the glass boxes.

Beyond this Beshty's works addresses the wider questions of medium, specifically in his case the medium of photography. His work, particularly the photograms and also his other camera-less work made in the darkroom, forms part of a dialogue with a number of artists whose practice involves photography who are dealing with the question of medium and form, a seemingly outdated concern associated with Clement Greenberg and modernist painting. Yet it would seem that these old arguments are coming to the fore with photography (consider Michael Fried's recent book on photography), a medium that is by nature ambiguous and is perhaps still having to assert itself amongst a portion of the art world - indeed, the title of Fried's book, Why Photography Matters As Art As Never Before, almost parodies (unintentionally, of course) photography's contested status as an artistic medium.

It is this ambiguity of the nature of photography - what it actually is - that is perhaps leading to these formal explorations. Beshty states that photography is essentially a type of medium, "constituted by a dialectic of applied use and technological development" that is "in a state of constant revision". With the advent of digital technology posing fresh questions about the indexical nature of the photographic image and assigning analogue photography to a specific moment in history, categorised and reference-able, it would appear that these explorations of medium are only just beginning to be rethought.