Tuesday, 22 January 2013
Spirit of Levity, Gravity and Confrontation
I interviewed Thijs Wassink of WassinkLundgren over the New Year for an article for the BJP. WassinkLundgren are prolific and mildly flippant which is why, although I am not always entirely convinced by them, I do like WassinkLundgren's Conceptual Documentary work. They are light and airy, a breath of fresh air that doesn't pause too much to consider the ethical implications of quite minor transgressions. They don't bear responsibility for what it photographs. So they photograph people picking up bottles? So what? It's not that important and even if it is a bad thing, there are worse things one can do and most of us do them on a daily basis. They use humour and engage with the outside world. Photography, and documentary photography in particular, is opened up to wider audiences because their is a bit of fun in their work, and a bit of fun in the way they talk about it.
And because they don't spend their evenings huddled up in front of a picture analysing exactly why they are responsible for what is portrayed in it, they have more time to make work. They are a veritable ideas factory. Not all the ideas are that good or that well-realised, but they are ideas and things move forward because of them. The pictures are a bit crap, but that's not really the point.
They have a spirit of levity about them which is quite refreshing. When I think of WassinkLundgren, I think of people like Mishka Henner and Broomberg and Chanarin, all two/three (what is it with double acts) of whom also open up the possibilities of photography. But Broomberg and Chanarin work with a Spirit of Gravity, and Mishka Henner, bless him, works with a Spirit of Confrontation which throws the Holy Cows of Photography right back into the faces of the mouths from which they emerged.
Anyway, you can read all about my thoughts on WassinkLundgren in the upcoming issue of the BJP, and they have an exhibition at Foam Gallery.