Monday, 23 March 2015
Ken Grant: Photography's Poet Laureate
I enjoyed writing this article on Ken Grant for the BJP earlier in the year. In the feature, I describe the process of a Ken Grant crit, the thing where you lay your pictures on the table and Grant gives it the once over.
'You’d bring out an unedited mess of pictures and Grant would start talking in his mellifluous poet’s voice, his thoughts weaving in and out of the pictures, connecting music, literature and photographers to them.'
'He touched on places where life shone, where soul came through, and left the rest alone; it was never about you, or the images, but about the wider world, the quiet moments, what you might do and what you could do. Then you’d leave the room, never quite sure what had happened, but always knowing that what mattered was the meaning and the rhythm and the soul, and that what you could do was what you hadn’t done.'
So if your pictures were rubbish, you'd come out of there with a warm honey-tongued glow of cultural references and multiple possibilities, and a slow burn of a realisation that actually you needed to do something. If your pictures were good, Ken wouldn't say much so you'd feel good about that, but you'd miss out on lyrical endeavours. The pleasures came from the pictures on the table.
It was a zero sum game.
Reading it again made me wonder about other crit styles which had me thinking of the old taxonomy of Nazi General Stereotypes (the shouty, the austere, the sadistic/pervey, the cultured, and the Rommel model).
I think you could probably fit all those into the photography teaching slot, But what are the other types. A short scientific survey revealed these, among others. But I'm sure there are many more.
1. The card sharp (shuffle-shuffle how-about-this, shuffle-shuffle how-about-this...)
2. The meat market judge ( no, no, no, no, yes, no, yes, no...)
3. The Ethicist
4. The nit-picker
5. The camera operator
6. The do-what-I-do Crit ("everyone should do what I did")
7. The Empathetic Crit ("what is it you're trying to do?")
8. The you're-not-going-to-make-a-living-from-this-so-what's-the-point
9. The It's Shite and I'm not afraid to say it Crit
10. The My Great Career Crit
11. The Everything's Lovely Crit
12. The X-Factor Crit (can I make them cry?)
13. The Auteur/Whisperer