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Friday, 14 March 2008

The Oppressive Image of Cultural Literacy

In celebration of Esko Mannikko winning the Deutsche Borse Prize (check out his memorable acceptance speech here), we go back to Pierre Bayard, author of How to talk about books you haven't Read.

He writes about the need to "free ourselves of the oppressive image of cultural literacy without gaps... for we can strive toward this image for a lifetime without ever managing to coincide with it. "

"Truth destined for others is less important than truthfulness to ourselves, something attainable only by those who free themselves from the obligation to seem cultivated, which tyrannizes us from within and prevents us from being ourselves."

In other words, we don't have to know everything, our pictures don't have to strive towards some technical pitch of photographic/non-photographic perfection, or some academic pitch of all-knowing cleverness, or some commercial pitch of saleabiltiy, don't photograph for the art market, the mag market or the ad market, don't try to be cool, don't try to hip, don't try to be someone else, don't try to make money, don't try to get published or show your work. Anything that does that will just be disposable. Just be yourself and let the work will come from that.


Anonymous said...

Thank you - I so appreciate that. Have quoted you, hope that's okay.

I was sad that John Davis didn't win since I love the apparent simplicity of his work, and many of the landscapes are places that are home to me, but yes, Mannikko is interesting.

colin pantall said...

Thanks Brendada - it's a nod towards the power of intuition and experience and a relief from the burden of knowledge.

I wanted John Davies to win too (for reasons stated in the original post I think), but Esko is great too - well-deserved!