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Sunday Stew (Dyer/RFK/Fusco/Wassink/Grenier)

Geoff Dyer’s best book may be the “sober study” he didn’t write about D. H. Lawrence (which became “Out of Sheer Rage“) but most in the photoworld know him for “The Ongoing Moment“. Dyer recasts a few TOM arguments and examples in his largely unfavorable review of the Tate’s new “Street & Studio” show (via Jim Johnson).

It’s good to see Matt getting a Dyer name-check (even if Matt’s site takes over the width of my browser), and yes, if you’re going to have a show that’s looking at street work, why not include Trent Parke instead of ____?

On the Paul Fusco front, just because it’s familiar doesn’t mean it might not be one of the best “street” projects ever. On the 40th anniversary of RFK’s assassination, Fusco’s “RFK Funeral Train” project is now hanging in NYC, and has been given the multimedia treatment on nytimes.com. This morning, I saw footage of RFK campaigning, and being pulled out of his car (literally) by handshakers eager to grasp the hand of their man, not unlike the crush I’ve seen in the past year while photographing Obama and the campaigns. To combat this, RFK had a true “body man” who literally held him by the waist so he wouldn’t get sucked out of the car. That’s love. (I think a photo of this can be found in Eppridge’s “RFK” book).

Every time I look at Fusco’s project (made in the course of the train ride carrying Kennedy’s body back to Washington) it moves me more than any of the arch, winking, ironic projects that won’t stand the test of time. Yes, Fusco is a Magnum photographer, and yes, Magnum tends to make jaded eyes roll, but look at the pictures and tell me they’re not a brilliant, substantive taxonomy of their own, with resonance solid enough to last forty years.

Now look at your own work and tell me what you’re doing that’s as good.

It’s surprising that Aperture’s waiting until Sept 1. to release the reprinting. Why not this week?

Above, I linked to 5b4’s review of WassinkLundgren’s empty-bottle-in-China project. I saw the project, as displayed at the New York Photo Festival, and after seeing it the first day, was eager to hear their lecture a few days later. By the time their lecture rolled around, I’d been thinking about how much I hated their project for a good day and a half. I realized I had no interest in hearing artists explain why they would go to China and plant plastic bottles and photograph the people who picked them up. Perhaps I would have been pleasantly surprised? You think?

I was pleased to see 5b4 pick-up the critical ball (especially in the glad-handing world of back-patting photoblogs afraid to say something of substance) and am doubly glad to hear Simon Norfolk’s take below, via foto8.

As an aside, or salt for the stew, it was great to get a glimpse of William Greiner’s show at Klompching Gallery, where he’ll be until June 27th. (And while you’re there, step next door to see the Gitelson videos and books - fun stuff, all, and an inspiring way forward for those of you who feel limited by still photography.) Grenier’s pictures pleased me in a few different directions, mainly because I thought my eyes were completely burned-out by pictures that could be seen as distinctly Southern, or “Egglestonian”, even.

One of the best things about Grenier’s frames are that they’re not those of an interloper, they’re pictures of the South taken by someone who lives (t)here, and as such, have a freshness rooted in authenticity. Looking at them, I see something visually familiar, of course, but Grenier’s work feels free of that nasty, omniverous, “everything out there will become mine” manifest-destiny that can be seen in work by so many of us. I trust Grenier’s photographs. They don’t feel like pictures that were made with the express intent to deliver a slice of “the colorful South” to please the art establishment, which makes their presentation that much more purposed & appealing.


© William Greiner

I’m becoming a defensive regionalist. Must sign-off now!

Tag: Tidbits