Thursday, September 22, 2011

Where are the Southerners?

There are two major photography shows, one up now and one about to open, that are international in scope and, given the venues, highly significant for what they say, and don't say, about perceptions in the current world of fine art photography.

The one that's up is at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, with the title Signs of a Struggle: Photography in the Wake of Postmodernism.

As the museum puts it, this exhibit "explores photographs that make reference to themselves, other media and texts, and demonstrates how such Postmodernist approaches to photography have persisted for over 30 years."

There is a review of this show on Joerg Colberg's blog Consciencious, here.

For some reason, I can't find a complete list of the photographers whose work is on display, but the show does for sure include the work of a number of well-known contemporary photographers, including Jeff Wall, Cindy Sherman, Richard Prince, and about 25 other folks.

This show is up in London through the 27th of November, 2011, and seems to be part of a run-up to an even bigger show at the V&A called Postmodernism: Style and Subversion, which opens soon and will be up for a long time.

The show that is about to open is at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC, and it's the 2011 installment of MOMA's ongoing series of shows under the general heading New Photography. It opens September 28th, 2011, and will be up through January 16th of next year.

This year's show, we are promised, is expanded to include six photographers whose work demonstrates "the diversity and international scope of contemporary photographic work."

The featured photographers this year are Moyra Davey from Canada, George Georgiou from England, Viviane Sassen from the Netherlands, Zhang Dali from China, and Deana Lawson and Doug Ricard from the USA.

Congratulations are certainly in order for all these folks, and especially for Lawson and Ricard.

But my point is that, as far as I can tell, none of the photographers in either of these shows has any connections to the American South. Well, Deana Lawson (image above) did have a show of her work at Spellman College in Atlanta, in 2009,  but that's pretty tenuous.

What does it mean that Southern American photographers do not seem to register in folks' minds when the questions are about recent styles in photography or current interests in work that demonstrates "diversity" or "international scope"?

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