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Thursday, 17 October 2013


I am not impressed.

Interesting exercise in empowerment, confronting and transforming what could very well be a negative situation and turning it into (at the very least) a photo opportunity- and hopefully, into a more fully realized encounter between two equals.

At first I was rather unimpressed: the picture that illustrates the post left me cold. But then I looked at the pictures in the article you've linked to. Some of them are nondescript, with the cars and other sources of visual pollution getting in the way, but most of those pictures are really good. The way Hannah Price captured the lust in some men's eyes is really amazing. And the body language... these are very expressive pictures. This is what people should be talking about when they discuss street photography.

It seems like there's a trend these days to value the story behind the work more than the work itself. If the story enlightens work that can stand on its own, then great, otherwise it feels like a crutch.

I hate to pile on, but this is excellent sociology, and mediocre photography. The body of work, with the story, is pretty great. But no individual photograph stands on its own, absent peers or the story, terribly well.

It is entirely the fault of the conditions, not the photographer. And it isn't even really a problem, because the nature of photography projects, especially like this one, is that they are experienced as a whole. Still, I concur with the lukewarm response it has received as random excellence, merely because this is a terrible venue for the project. Still, I'm glad it was brought to my attention...

Contradictory enough?

[What's wrong with looking at "excellent sociology"? --Mike]

Very interesting that this work is getting attention and inspiring dialog less because of the photographs themselves, than because of the circumstances in which they were made. Kind of like documents of a long, drawn out performance.

How would they be viewed and understood without the back story?

[And why in the world would you want to do that? That makes no sense at all. Their meaning is in what they are. They're not just random snapshots. --Mike]

IJB & Will-

Agreed- but sometimes ART has a way of transcending the very medium that spawns it (just not in the way you or I may like).

@Will "...But no individual photograph stands on its own.... "

They don't have to. There is nothing wrong with a strong body of work that comes from photographs that don't necessarily stand out/work individually. If it's an excellent body of work and story, then surely it fits?

Thanks to the love of the punctum style imagery in the news, where every image has to arrest and grab you, coupled with the proliferation of web forums where people obsess over the single image rather than a body of work, we are losing (or have lost) the sense (or at least the importance) of narrative and storytelling. There's a strong play on the gaze here, with the viewer (probably male given the demographics of photographers) then being put into Hannah's position. I like it, it makes me think and tells a story.

"… Still, I concur with the lukewarm response it has received as random excellence…"

I don't, it works as whole piece, therefore it fits the excellence category. As piece of photographic narrative and storytelling, it is job well done, as individual wall dressing, yeah not so much but then it's not trying to be.

I like the photographs. Of several "environmetal portrait" series seen here in Random Excellence, I feel these are amoung the most genuine. They are not overly posed or stylised - just honest pictures of men in their environment. That works for me by itself.
Coupled with the attached story, that makes this approach even more valid.

Most of the other sixteen photographs in the linked article are more engaging than the featured example here which, to me, is a run-of-the-mill snapshot.
Definitely worth clicking on the link though.

This is similar to the debate over photo captions (which I favor). When you are made aware of the context of the image (or in this case project) it effects your emotional response. Which, again, I am all in favor of. Oh and I think that photo's 1,5,6 and 15 are excellent on their own but especially so considering the subject. And the scope of the work as a whole is quite interesting.

2 cents..

I think the photos are excellent. I like these a lot more than the typical street photography stuff I see (warmed over Cartier-Bresson).

What's a cat call?

I noticed that all but one of the men she photographed were black. The article says she's half Mexican and half Black. In Latin America, there was a strict racial hierarchy that placed Blacks at the bottom of society (they were originally slaves, just like in the USA), and although that no longer has the force of law in any of Spain's former colonies, it survives in the culture of many modern Hispanic countries.

I'm a white Hispanic (the Hispanic part of my family is from Spain), and have encountered the worst racism against Blacks and mixed-race people among my fellow Hispanics. During the time I lived in New Mexico, I learned a disgustingly large number of Spanish racial slurs for non-whites, both Hispanic and Anglo.

I wonder how much of her work was motivated by her discomfort over 'cat-calls' and how much was based on revulsion at her own African ancestry?

Glad you were interested in this work, Mike. An amusing aside, though...you write "Hannah Price moved from a small town in Colorado to Philadelphia". She moved from Fort Collins, Colorado to Philadelphia. It is indisputable that Philadelphia is much bigger than Fort Collins and likely presented her with a significant cultural differences. However, Fort Collins had a population of 144,000 in the 2010 and is the home of Colorado State University--not exactly bucolic! =)

Chris C- I certainly can't speak for her, but I don't understand (particularly after everything you first, quite rightly, stated) how this work could possibly be motivated by "revulsion at her own African ancestry."

That would constitute a level of self hatred one would not want to publicly air. It strikes me that this work evolved from an artist's quest to further understand and come to grips with who she is, and how she relates to her own people and they to her- doing it in a way she never had to before. What strikes me is the positive manner in which she has chosen to deal with it and make it a "teachable moment" for all concerned. This is certainly not the reaction of someone trapped in issues of their own self worth and identity, it's the work of someone confident enough to say- look at yourself when you look at me.

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