It seems weird to me that the first blog I had was almost exclusively art. I think of myself so much as a writer at this point that it’s hard for me to remember how long it took me to get there.
So my first blog was my drawings and silly things I enjoyed.
The painting above is my favorite piece on it. I take great pride in the fact that for years, it was the top result for a Google Image search of “Alan Cumming Martha Stewart.” It is based on a real photo of a real thing that happened and which remains one of my favorite pictures of all time:
I know. It’s art already.
My dear friend Leon and I had this picture on our fridge when we lived together. I made the painting for him as a birthday present, nearly four years ago.
So tonight, I Googled it again. Just to see where I landed. And while my painting was indeed among the results, I saw that the image did not link back to the original painting on my blog.
Look, we all have dreams, right? It gets better. Here is Alan, re: the painting (at the conclusion of a really nice blog post about aging, actually):
"I looked for the photograph of me and Martha from the time I learned how to make quesadillas on her show but couldn’t locate it. However, some lovely person has done this drawing of it, which I found on the interweb."
The fact that he was out there, specifically looking for that image, makes me happier than anything, happier even than him finding my piece in the process.
Anyway, that’s it. That’s all.
Why would anyone agree to being photographed without a full understanding of the potential political, cultural and economic currency of the images. That eco-system, the moral, political and financial world that images work in began to interest us more than the individual images. So our work began to look at revealing the mechanisms at work around image making, distribution and consumption. It’s hard to do this if you’re just making pictures which for the most part leaves you at the bottom of this powerful food chain.
This is a fantastic interview, about as insightful and provocative as could be hoped for - unsurprising, given the nature of Broomberg and Chanarin’s work. Indeed, anyone who might have previously found their themes a little forbidding could ask for no better introduction. But, at the same time, it seems to me that opposing the political and the merely aesthetic, which is apparently the thought at the heart of the passage quoted above and throughout the discussion with Jörg, also forestalls a number of other important possibilities.
Perhaps there is a more useful distinction to be made here between work that is openly politicized and a mode of practice that contains the political within it. (B&C are, of course, a perfect example of the politicized approach). Critique is not the only way in which the “political” can be addressed and to suggest the aesthetic as a viable alternative is not always to fall back into a sort of bourgeois complacency. This affirmation has a political dimension when it allows us to see and find value in what our cultural narratives (or the structures of oppression that they manifest) would prefer to negate - the “aesthetic” is revealed, then, as a political category.
Of course, most photography is concerned merely with looking and this is especially true of photo-journalism, which for all its rhetoric of “speaking truth to power” most often just reiterates established positions, so the work of B&C is absolutely crucial to understanding the landscape of contemporary photographic practice and those “economies” that constitute it, but this politicized approach is not the sole means by which the ineffable forces that shape our lives can be addressed, even if it is admittedly among the most effective.
"Alexandra & The Minatour"
Oil on Canvas
39” x 46” Inches
(99 cm x 116 cm)