Although it’s been years since I left Aotearoa New Zealand, I still retain a confusing residue of kiwispeak: sweet as, chocka, sparrow’s faaart… y’know, the usual stuff. So when a mate recently asked me if judging ZO Magazine’s 2015 Art Exposé was easy, without thinking I answered: “Yeah nah.” (I never quite understood this kiwi conversational oddity; just because it’s called a “Yes/No Question” doesn’t mean you have to answer with each.)
All of the artwork submitted to the Art Exposé was uniformly strong, and this made my job easy: Il Giocoliere (Juggling) is an instantaneously striking image that possesses subtle undertones of Italian Futurism, a movement of limited importance to the history of art, but fascinating significance to the history of photography; Summer Chaos rewards extended viewing, drawing viewers into a swirling vortex of whimsical figurative recognition mixed with dizzying all-over compositional abstraction; the fictive elements of Lost resemble a movie poster designed to entice and intrigue, while Canvas 79 was yet another reminder that deftly handled abstraction is always enticing and intriguing; and finally, The Convergence of Dust reminds me of Vik Muniz’s work (for example, his unforgettable 2000 exhibition ‘Pictures of Dust’ at the Whitney Museum of American Art in which he recreated photographs of Minimalist and Postminimalist sculptures using dust gathered from the museum’s galleries and offices), while Adam and Eve reminds me of Lewis Carroll’s early illustrations as exhibited in ‘Alice: 150 Years of Wonderland’ currently on-view at the Morgan Library & Museum.
The difficult aspect of judging the Art Exposé was wrestling with the cognitive dissonance generated from marrying the contest’s theme (convergence) with the concept of Imagereality. Normally when judging works of art, the knowledge of particulars–media, size, etc – is essential, but with Imagereality, images are their own total reality. Because of this, Imagereality reverses the usual convergence between viewer and work viewed. Think of sculpture, a medium neglected within the contest: to experience a sculpture, a viewer must enter the sculpture’s locality; in other words, you must go to IT. With Imagereality, IT comes to you. For example, in years past, traveling to Montreal would have been essential to view Alan Avorgbedor’s photography exhibition Intimacy of the Immediate and to read Charissa Von Harringa’s accompanying essay, in which she describes Avorgbedor’s work as “visual archaeologies that capture order and hierarchy in radically subjective space.” But here now: Intimacy of the Immediate.
“Odd,” Roland Barthes mused in Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography, “that no one has thought of the disturbance (to civilization) which this new action [photography] causes.” Imagereality is a disturbance to convergence; daily avalanches of images have become our reality. Reality, of course, is a drinkwater word. And thus, any offshoot of reality, such as Imagereality, is a tricky concept. A good starting point for wrestling with particulars of Imagereality is Susan Sontag’s observation in On Photography that “the photographer’s insistence that everything is real also implies that the real is not enough.”
For the rest of the essay, click HERE