Saturday, 5 January 2013

Subtly Subversive

Here's a useful quotation, used by photographer Pradip Malde on his website.  The author is setting up a discussion of Malde's work with the platinum process, but it's an interesting illustration of how, sometimes, being a bit conservative can be the more radical thing:

Given that so much contemporary art has been styled as a radical negation of the formal conventions of artwork, it is surprising that the fine art photographic print still maintains a credibility and force. The element of craft and technical expertise can seem retrogressive in an atmosphere of fevered conceptualism and self-conscious avant-garde dissonance. Certainly the photograph has been subject to this radicalisation with the 'snapshot', the vernacular photograph, the serial study, the neutral or 'deadpan' form, the confessional abject image, the conceptual photograph all finding favour within the contemporary art world. Indeed, all of these forms have been captured by the institutions, the galleries and the academies, so that in some sense they construct the new establishment. Within this frame the photographers who remain fascinated by the metier appear both conventional and contradictory. Conventional, in that they recognise a history which remains unresolved and open to development, and contradictory, in that they oppose the measured intellectual strategies of the conceptual in favor of a subtly subversive concern with form and content.

Tom Normand, Scottish Photography: a history (2007)

It would have been better written in plain English, of course, but academics are contractually-obliged to write in this constipated style, and it summarises recent photographic history in a neat way, I think.

St. Catherine's Hill, New Year's Day 2013


Pradip Malde said...

It's a messy business ... And Normand identifies my chief concerns with it. His observation, even though it may seem cloudy, explains one of the main reasons why I have pretty much gone out of circulation. The other reason, to perhaps risk misrepresenting and simplifying the quote, is that this kind of work just is not of any interest to curators - perhaps for some understandable motives. Thanks for the mention! Pradip Malde.

Mike C. said...

Pradip Malde,

And thanks in return for commenting, I'm very pleased and not a little flattered that you would take the trouble.

I find your work -- as evidenced on your website/blog -- of continuing great interest, aesthetically and emotionally, and it is an indictment of the contemporary art and gallery scene if it cannot be more widely shown.

I continue to wait for the Malde book which must surely one day become available. Do you know the work of Raymond Meeks? He seems to have found an uncompromising model for self-publication and promotion that seems to work.


Pradip Malde said...

Thank you Mike! I do know Raymond Meeks' work, and admire it immensely - there are rumors that he may be teaching a workshop in my neck of the woods at some point in the next year or two... in which case I will be the first to sign up! As to a book of my work - sigh... nothing on the horizon, but I have been putting out the occasional handmade piece. Am also actively seeking a publisher for this. Again - thank you for your kind words about my work! :)

Mike C. said...

Wow, what an amazing format... It reminds me of that trope in TV comedy where an endless succession of people emerges from the same car or phonebox...

If ever there was a project with Herr Steidl's name all over it, this is it!


Pradip Malde said...

Thank you Mike! I wish there was some way of approaching fortress Steidl! Most of the really good photo publishers seem to select work in mysterious ways and I am not connected or have the hustle to establish an approach. Actually, this just loops back to your post and its core concerns. Thanks again for looking! It is encouraging!