It has become a bit of a tradition for me to list the photographers whose work impressed or inspired me the most over the past twelve months. As usual, the fine print first. This is not some kind of competition, but a simple reflection of my own personal interests. In addition, the only element of time is when I came across somebody’s work and not when it was taken. In any case, here they are, in alphabetical order:
Edward Burtynsky has just expanded his work to covering China. When I walked through his big show in New York the other day, I thought there wasn’t a single weak photo in it - quite the feat for such a large show.
Wang Qingsong is one of the many Chinese photographers whose work are now getting more exposure in the West. I have the feeling that many Westerners are still quite baffled by Chinese photography; and I certainly hope that we will be able to see more of it in galleries and museums outside of China.
There isn’t much that I can say about Brian Ulrich’s work other than that it’s utterly fascinating. While our consumerist society has almost become a cliché in itself, Brian manages to show us its weird and sometimes insane aspects in his photos taken in malls and thrift stores - two end of the the same spectrum.
As always, I also asked some friends about their personal favourites, and here is what they send me:
Tobias Hegele: “Overall, this year found me most impressed with the work of Rineke Dijkstra. In her work I particularly like her images of teenagers and young adults. I would like to single out the series of portraits of Olivier Silva and the fantastic Israel portraits, particularly the images of Shany.
“The most impressive original prints I had the pleasure of viewing this year would have to be Hans-Christian Schink’s ‘Verkehrsprojekte’. The prints blew me away when I saw them in a small gallery in Munich.
Len Kowitz: “My inspiration this year came from a rather predictable source, John Szarkowski. There is something of a short story behind my reaction to his work.
In March if this year I read his most recent book, Photographs, and in reading it I came across this quote, ‘It seems to me more and more obvious that is no reward in art worth seeking, other than doing the work. Even when the public thinks they are appreciating an artist, they almost always get it all wrong, and the artist must choose between being rude or pretending to be grateful for the misunderstanding. I do not mean to blame the public; why should they know what it is that you are, or I am, trying to do? Especially since neither of us is sure, the uncertainty being part of the fun, when there is any fun.’
“Well, that’s what got me interested in what he was talking about and thinking of his quote in terms of my own work. I couldn’t get it out of my head and I kept thinking how true and to the point he was.
“During the Summer I made a trip to Montana to hang out at the Photographer’s Formulary with Al Weber and David Vestal at a workshop. On the way home I stopped at the University of Arizona to visit the Center for Creative Photography. Much to my surprise there was a very large exhibition of Szarkowski’s work and he was speaking that evening. I hung around and listened to John and ProfessorJoel Schneider of the University of Chicago talk about John’s work.
“Long story short, it was a wonderful experience and I believe has given me much to think about and changed me with a whole new level of enthusiasm for my own work.”