THE RECOGNITION AND ACCEPTANCE of color photography grew significantly with the Museum of Modern Art’s 1976 exhibition of work by William Eggleston. The notion that photography was a blackand-white medium was irreversibly challenged by that event.
ART IS POLITICS: A Review of El Salvador and A Vanishing World
Art is politics. Particularly in the realistic forms of photography and filmmaking, what gets assigned, shown, or sold reflects political considerations. No phones need ring with influential messages from Washington. Politics is in the air.
Among the most subversive qualities of the still photograph is that at its best it so often confronts us with a world wholly alien to our aspirations, a world, or its parts, that we would prefer to disregard altogether. I doubt if it is either the graphic renderings of atrocity and horror conspicuous in the mass media or their aestheticized counterparts familiar from galleries and the art press that really draw our deepest responses.
William Eggleston once made celebrated reference to the Confederate flag as the compositional basis of his photographs. He was responding to the observation that his pictures displayed a radiation of form from a central core. The accuracy of the observation was evident in William Eggleston’s Guide at The Museum of Modern Art in 1976—a crossroads in the status of color photography.
One summer night in 1982 Joel Sternfeld, on one of his many trips cross country, was staying in a campground outside Gallup, New Mexico. There was a full moon. During the night wild horses wandered onto the grounds. He woke to the loud sound in the still night of horses chewing grass, and to a baby’s cry.
When I was still in graduate school, I heard that a [Ku Klux] Klan meeting was to take place at the Tuscaloosa courthouse. I talked a friend into going with me. When we got there, you couldn’t see any lights in the building. I said, "Let's go in."
These reproductions, the tip of the iceberg as it were, are a selection from a great body of work that Luis Medina has done on the painted walls of his North Side Chicago neighborhood. Urban combat on the brick walls of Chicago's Near North Side.
After six years of shooting black-andwhite, I began to experiment with color. For a documentarian of social realism, subtleties, no matter how slight, are of consequence. Color is important to this gathering of information. The changes in skin coloration, the color of light at different times of the day, how things appear under artificial light, and the color choices of ethnic and social classes and of male and female combine to form the narrative of my photographs.
The unchartered regions still left to wander upon are zones of the self, reflected for the urban explorer in empty streets and buildings. Staller’s photographs involve a number of fundamental interests, some of which have fascinated him since childhood, and many of which embody the dream quality of a child’s imagination.
Author I take it you don’t mind being interviewed. Photograph Not really. It’s not often I have a chance to speak directly. What I have to say is usually conveyed through intermediaries, like dealers and art critics. Author That’s odd. What a photograph has to say should be obvious to everyone, since it’s right there on the surface for everyone to see.
In Berlin, the prevailing winds are from the west. Consequently a traveler coming in by plane has plenty of time to observe the city from above. In order to land against the wind, a plane from the west must cross the city and the wall dividing it three times: initially heading east, the plane enters West Berlin airspace, banks left in a wide arc across the eastern part of the city, and then, coming back from the east, takes the barrier a third time on the approach to Tegel landing strip.
Lewis Baltz Lewis Baltz is visiting associate professor of photography at the University of California. His most recent monograph, Park City, was published by Castelli Graphics/Art Space/Aperture. William Christenberry Sculptor and painter William Christenberry’s most recent book, Southern Photographs, is available from Aperture.
Cover, pages 8—11 photographs courtesy of Middendorf Gallery, Washington, D.C. Page 2 Susan Meiselas photograph courtesy of Magnum Photos. Page 3 Roman Vishniac photographs courtesy of the International Center of Photography exhibition "Roman Vishniac: A Vanished World."