14 June 2007

Moving Walls 13 (Soros/OSI)

The Open Society Institute, funded by George Soros, runs a Documentary Photography Initiative that concentrates on funding the distribution rather than the creation/production of long-term documentary projects. I don't have any quarrel with that focus since the problems of getting good photography out into the world where it can be seen are notorious. The Initiative has two components: (1) Distribution Grants to photographers working with some "partner organization" to get their work out, and (2) the Moving Walls Exhibitions, the 13th iteration of which is just now opening at OSI headquarters in NYC.

Here are a couple of observations occasioned by line-up of Moving Walls 13, which includes work by Edward Burtynsky. The first observation concerns whether Ed really has so much difficulty getting his work seen. It seems to me that funding his work through this grant process is a bit like bringing sand to the beach. Perhaps including Burtynsky in the exhibition will draw larger audiences than it might otherwise attract. But, come on, he hardly is hard pressed for venues to exhibit his work and including him presumably meant excluding someone else, almost surely someone else with fewer resources and opportunities. (I assume that the OSI initiative, which is a competitive one, in fact is funding Burtynsky in the same way it is funding the other participants in the group show.)

The second observation is this - and here regular readers likely will say "There he goes again!" - I'd like some clear account of why Burtynsky's work is "documentary" rather than "art" photography. I have nothing against Burtynsky; as I've said here before, I actually like his work quite a lot. I can imagine an argument for categorizing his work as either art or documentary. But I think Burtynsky is a perfect example of why we ought to chuck that conventional distinction altogether! Of course, I have said all that at greater length before.

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1 Comments:

Blogger Stan B. said...

I have no problem with documentary work that also qualifies as "art." Again, you know it when you see it.

But, yeah, I do have a problem with such major names getting...

Like bringing sand to the beach- you said it!

14 June, 2007 01:45  

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