I couldn’t help but laugh when I read the comments at the end of the Huffington Post article, Month of Photography Los Angeles (MOPLA) Continues with "New Research" on April 9. (Link provided above.) This is so absolutely normal. A big-time arts organization like MOPLA and the Lucie Foundation put on a “Month of Photography” featuring what they say is Great Photography but the comments online are universally negative. Comments like, ‘boring’, ‘vapid,’ ‘absurdity at its worst’ and ‘Now I know one thing I'm NOT attending any time soon...’ What’s going on here? Why do the “art experts” continue to foist upon us imagery that “the people” see as, well, boring, vapid and absurd?
Because they’re not really “experts” at all, they’re caretakers of the status-quo. This is not new. Here’s what Salvador Dali had to say about it in 1939:
Any authentically original idea, presenting itself without “known antecedents” is systematically rejected, toned down, mauled, chewed, re-chewed, spewed forth, destroyed, yes, and even worse--- reduced to the most monstrous of mediocrities. The excuse offered is always the vulgarity of the vast majority of the public. I insist that this is absolutely false. The public is infinitely superior to the rubbish that is fed to it daily. The masses have always known where to find true poetry. The misunderstanding has come about entirely through those “middle-men of culture” who, with their lofty airs and superior quacking, come between the creator and the public.
Salvador was quite right and nothing has changed in the 73 years hence. The “art experts” aren’t really exhibiting anything new or innovative. They and organizations like MOPLA are risk-adverse and they’re not going to show anything that their incestuous, self-referencing peers haven’t already anointed as acceptable.
I’m a professional photographer and digital artist and I’d planned on attending MOPLA. I submitted my work for MOPLA’s “Fresh look portfolio reviews” and was looking forward to meeting some esteemed curators, gallerists and other “industry professionals.” Unfortunately, despite my thirty plus years working as a full-time artist, over one-hundred exhibitions and the dozen books I’ve published, my photography was rejected! It’s just a good thing I’m old and treacherous because if I had received this rejection as a young artist I might have believed my work was truly horrible and unworthy of even being seen by “industry professionals.”
“The selection process was highly competitive and we regret to inform you that we are unable to accept your submission for the juried portion of the Portfolio Review.”
So how does a guy with an exhibition history that dates back to 1979, has nothing but positive critical reviews, a dozen published books with a long list of people who’ve bought my photographs manage to be so totally blown-off by the “pre-reviewers” that deemed my works so horrible as unworthy of even being seen by the portfolio reviewers?
Because my pictures don’t look like theirs, that’s all. My works lack the “known antecedents” that Dali refers to so are “systematically rejected.” I don’t like it, but I am used to it. And yes, it still pisses me off! I also know where to look for really interesting works, they’re in a file marked “REJECTED.” If you’re looking for Great Photography I don’t think you’re going to find it a MOPLA, or any festival. What you will find is photography that they tell you to believe is Great ---and it might be, but don’t believe them, trust your own eyes and come to your own conclusions. And if you should disagree with the “experts” that’s OK because if enough of “the people” reject Bad Art “the experts” will eventually catch up.
Here’s some of the works rejected by MOPLA. These works were deemed unacceptable to even be reviewed by “industry professionals.” Compare the rejected works to the MOPLA slide show and come to your own conclusion. If you leave a comment, you are now an “art expert.”
Path to Enlightenment
Bureau of Expectations
[Here's a link to MOPLA slide show from April 9 Huffington Post article.]
Compare the images here to the Hufington Post slide show and tell me what you think. Please leave a comment!!!!