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Photographic Carnage


Thierry Maindrault’s Monthly Chronicle

There are no more limits, no any limits. Each time we are confronted with mediocre images, we imagine that we have reached rock bottom, we cannot think that there can still be a bonus in mediocrity. I am sorry to disabuse you, after half a century of production and exposure inside the photographic world in all its aspects, there are always records to be broken, in the bad quality  of work. What surprises me most is the propensity of some to highlight these disastrous photographs under fallacious pretexts for often staggering avowed objectives.

At a time of profound changes in the use of photography, would it be possible to question the use of photographic tools and especially their use? We will not mention all the idea of creation, as diverse as they are varied, which encompass both interpretation and creation (used over and over again).

I will confine myself to the simple technical realisation of a photographic image.

The one that must be carried out by the “man of the art” – for his photographic work –. Incidentally, I always imagined that the mention “artist” on the cards that were regularly handed to me really concerned the realization of the technical work that was before my eyes! Doubt arises regularly for several reasons. The first is that all the – truly – great photographers who physically produce all of their images have almost always presented themselves as “artisans” which in no way detracts from the perfection of their work. Secondly, those who claim to be “artists” most often display images whose creation is a half-assed job. As their claiming of a title clearly cannot come from their know-how, you will think that it is their creativity in the making, but don’t go along with them. I don’t want to dwell on the substance; but it is obvious that very often content and form go hand in hand.

How does photography get caught up in this hellish downward spiral? Essentially, I see two personages who combine their efforts to make us believe, in terms of the work with light that we can make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. The group of the first is made up of authors of photographs who are totally ignorant about the transformation of an image (all technologies combined). The second part concerns parasites who, for the most part, live off photography… of others -.

Let’s start with our photographer, whether he comes from a major photography engineering school, a training center for unemployed, passed a so-called technology baccalaureate or whether he is self-taught, with a few rare exceptions, he knows nothing about the principles of photography, photography techniques, photographic technologies. Better than that is still possible, but yes, he is often unaware of how his own camera works. It should be noted that the instructions for use, when delivered in the box with the device, are somewhere between an old telephone directory and grandpa’s encyclopedia. It is no better with the so-called “pdf” instructions waiting hidden on the internet.

You can imagine that if our “artist photographers” do not really master their – material – (many limits themselves to the green dot on the camera), they encounter some difficulties in front of a developer tank or a twelve-color plotter. Better yet, how many times have I heard: “I only work with the best laboratory in the country, and they exceptionally put the best shooter at my disposal”. Seeing the results obtained, the shooter is perfectly in osmosis with the level of the photographer and his images. Often they both fit the same mold. Thus, the same level of competence is required and too bad for our bruised eyes and our brains lost in incomprehension.

 Some of us would say that it is the total reality, of the current state of affairs of mediocre photographs which try to show of on desperate picture rails, in pages of useless books, in sinister galleries. As for the author, this technical inadequacy, even if it remains inexcusable, can be understood on the part of someone who is incompetent to judge his own work.

When it comes to the satellite band of happy interested people, we have already arrived beyond the inexcusable. All this new little world which shamelessly gorges itself on the back of photographic images, without having the slightest respect for its. Unless, of course, they always find very good excuses for the crimes they commit. How many photographic galleries have appeared like mushrooms in recent years? The analogy with the mushroom seems to be of autumnal circumstance; since if there are some delicious ones, the majority are tasteless, even poisonous when they are not fatal.

As for the authors, I will not mention the substance, for these new gallery owners, with their inability to define a work of supporting quality. They associate, with great enthusiasm, technical failures with contemporary art of which they already imagine themselves to be future gurus.

For the record, I am often blissful in front of these technically pitiful images that curators, cultural administrators and other directors of museums or galleries dare to hang on their picture rails, in complete unconsciousness. It should be noted that the term “picture rails” is purely fictitious since it very frequently involves drawing pins, clothespins, sticky tape, drawing clips or any other system likely to damage the works presented.

That a creator, in his ivory tower, cannot see that the result of his work is botched, I can see it even if I fail to understand it. But it remains incomprehensible that a professional of Culture (claiming to know about Art) is incapable of identifying the quality of the artworks and rejecting them, without qualms. All these technically insufficient achievements border on a scam against the creator of the artwork and for the trusting and naive amateurs.

Today’s photographers no longer earn a living. They certainly contributes to this with the mediocrity of their achievements, strongly encouraged by the flock of so-called supporters more passionate about the lucrative aspects than the values essential to the sustainability of the artworks.

Thierry Maindrault, October 13, 2023

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