John Wood on the Virus of Pomposity

April 8, 2011 § 3 Comments

From Steven Albahari, Publisher, 21st Editions:

21st: The Journal of Contemporary Photography served a purpose far greater than most realized. Unfortunately, no one seems to have taken the baton and run with it. The state of photographic criticism today is a sad thing. 21ST Editions editor, John Wood, sent me the following essay. Some will agree with it and it will piss some people off. Read and decide what side of that aisle you are on. We’d love to hear back from you!

The Virus of Pomposity:
Why So Much Contemporary Photographic Criticism is Pretentious, Pompous, Boring, and Unreadable

In a forthcoming interview with me in The Asheville Poetry Review the distinguished poet, literary critic, and scholar Daniel Westover asked me about my work as a photographic critic.  “You treat photographs as works of art—works that, like all art forms, require emotional engagement in order to be understood. . . . Can you say a little about your rather atypical approach to photography criticism? Does your work as a poet and literary scholar lead you to approach the discipline in this unique way?”  This is part of what I said in response: « Read the rest of this entry »

John Wood on Why So Much Contemporary Photography is Boring

March 31, 2011 § 28 Comments

The answer is simple and requires no lengthy essay.  A serious photograph is like any other serious work of art—a painting, a poem, a symphony, and so forth.  My use of the adjective serious is to denote a work that bears repeated looks, readings, hearings, etc. and rewards those repeated experiences of it with fresh insights and pleasure.  How is it possible that repeated returns to a work can bring fresh insight?  That happens to be what any art that has lived or will live requires and demands.  I won’t discuss here how this is possible in each of the arts but will restrict myself to photography. « Read the rest of this entry »

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