Five Sensational Tweets about Photographs That I Have Not Seen

Five Sensational Tweets about Photographs That I Have Not Seen” in Latvian Photography 2018 Yearbook (Riga: FK, 2018).

Download and read the author’s draft (as of March 2018).

Read more about the Latvian Photography 2018 Yearbook on the publisher’s website.


Excerpt:

It is beyond doubt that Twitter has become one of the most important media and it is more interesting to scroll one’s Instagram feed than go to an art museum or gallery. The comments on artist’s work on social media are often more relevant than the critics’ reviews written in dense artspeak. Majority of them, furthermore, would be less inclined to discuss actual artwork than to express their helpless anger at Facebook, Google or “capitalism” in general for using their random selfies to train face recognition neural networks. Few others would have to go to the extremes and rely on swearwords or sarcasm in order to make their voices heard, like Cristina Bogdan just did in a review of Transmediale 2018 or Jerry Saltz—in a review of The New Museum’s 2018 Triennial.[1] There is no better time and place to endlessly conflate fact and fiction, reality and opinion. Successful examples abound—from Amalia Ulman’s makeover selfies to Oobah Butler’s restaurant The Shed at Dulwich.[2]

In what follows, I present five problematic and much—or sometimes not enough—discussed claims about photography and its role in contemporary society. These claims take the shape of five fictional tweets. As a brief commentary on each of these tweets, I mention some aspects from five works that I have not seen apart from a few jpgs in my email or on the artists’ web sites. Which, by the way, is perhaps the most widespread way of viewing artworks today. Even high-end collectors often place their bids in auctions or select work for purchase from a dealer after only seeing a jpg. Thus, my responses to the fictional tweets are as much a rant about contemporary photography as a reflection about the process and methods of writing about it.


[1] Cristina Bogdan, “Fuck off Transmediale (provisional title),” Revista Arta, February 8, 2018; Jerry Saltz, “The New Museum’s ‘I Am More Woke Than You’ Triennial,New York Magazine / Vulture, February 20, 2018.

[2] Amalia Ulman, Excellences & Perfections (2014), on view at the New Museum’s Online Exhibition: https://www.newmuseum.org/exhibitions/view/amalia-ulman-excellences-perfections; Oobah Butler, “I Made My Shed the Top Rated Restaurant On TripAdvisor,” Vice, December 6, 2017.