picture: Colin Pantall (with thanks to Saniplus Macerators)
Over at the Magnum Blog, Alec Soth quotes Richard Lacayo and Jerry Saltz musing on what the
current economic crisis means for the art market and photography.
"Many younger artists who made a killing will be forgotten quickly," says Salts. "Others will be seen mainly as relics of a time when marketability equaled likability." Like Lacayo, he sees an upside. "The good news is that, since almost no one will be selling art, artists -- especially emerging ones -- won't have to think about turning out a consistent style or creating a brand."
Soth continues with his own take on affairs.
"A few years ago a major collector pulled me aside to offer some advice. "If you want success in the art world," he told me, "the key is to find your thing and never change." His advice almost had me vomiting on his Hirst, but he was probably right. The commerce of art isn't much different than the commerce of handbags. It is all about showing off the brand.
One wonders how the collapsing markets might affect the larger universe (or is it a ghetto?) of the photography world. Will gimmickry and branding become less prominent? Will documentation take precedence over decoration? Will people start caring less about the bag than the stuff it is carrying?"
Hopefully gimmickry will fail, new creativity will emerge and an opening up of photography beyond both the branding of the market and documentary will become apparent - and the move away from documentary in its current form can only be a good thing. Photography is incredibly constrained by academic, media and market perspectives. It is lost in its own rhetoric - the sooner it opens up the better. Perhaps we should all stop caring about what everyone else thinks and just show it how we think it is - then perhaps everything wouldn't quite look all the same.
Isn't that what Obama would do.