fashion and art; the forces that rule my perceptions of beauty and desire may pull and push them closer or further from each other at times, but they remain essentially independent.
photography is one of these forces.
“THIS EXHIBITION IS NOT A CHRONOLOGICAL SURVEY, BUT A NARRATIVE IN WHICH YOU DISCOVER THE UNIVERSE OF PETER LINDBERGH THROUGH HIS UNIQUE EYE”
- Guest curator Thierry-Maxime Loriot
i should have paid more attention to the press release, then i wouldn’t have been so disappointed, in fact i may not have gone to see it at all; i’m sure i would rather have had a coffee and page through the book.
a fat blonde girl is taking selfies with a kate moss portrait.
“PRECISELY NOW, WHEN THE YOUNGER GENERATION IS INUNDATED BY IMAGES VIA INSTAGRAM, FACEBOOK AND OTHER SOCIAL MEDIA, THE KUNSTHAL CONSIDERS IT IMPORTANT TO SHOW HIS LARGE AND SMALL PHOTOGRAPHIC PRINTS FRAMED AND HUNG ON THE WALL”
- Emily Ansenk
on the last day of peter lindbergh’s show at the kunsthal i was confronted again with that dirty engine that plays such a large part in our lives.
the crowd was a sad mix of interested midlife crisis moms, millennial follower types and fashionistas; ‘i remember this’, pointing at an image which she could only remember if it was passed on to her from an older sister, others brought their reluctant partners to share the moment, ‘won’t you take a photo of us next to…’, her combination of knee high boots and zip up dress wants to make me cry.
knowing how much work and effort goes into an exhibition, i generally and respectfully decline to comment on bad exhibitions. this however was so borderline and embarrassing that i can’t turn a blind eye to it.
my relationship with these images are much more intimate, not from behind frames and glass, like when you could still read the vogue, lately i get to wonder if it isn’t just another undercover ad-agency? it’s the kind of engagement which often goes missing in the reconstruction, curators often use the word ‘interpretation’ to disguise this shortcoming.
i could try to describe the functions of curating properly but we don’t have time for all that so suffice it to say that an important goal of the curator should be to extract that value, that importance in an oeuvre which gives meaning to the exhibition narrative and to allow the viewer time and space to absorb the message. only the message here was maybe not one i wanted to hear.
i’ve followed lindbergh’s career in pictures from the nineties on and he was probably my first encounter with the machine. i was certainly expecting more insight into its workings than its product, but instead, what did i find?
what i miss mostly in this type of historical overview is context to truly show the pivotal dynamism of his work at a particular time. he made others see what he sensed, that to me is the part he portrayed beautifully at a time which required his refreshing approach desperately; when women were re-evaluating themselves from the empowering high of the assertive eighties; he offered a natural femininity to rediscover,
i’m not questioning his brilliance, it is exactly what makes me question the way the exhibition was assembled, offering remarkably little about the man himself, the artist and creator.
that’s where it all went horribly wrong. it was like walking into the antechamber of some pubescent palace with arbitrary images plastered against the walls; an over eager fan club that you’re not certain you want to join anymore, complete with the sacrificial swear-a-blood-oath chamber.
my apologies mr lindbergh,
we also have to feed the machine.
to add to my list of popular contradictions:
fashion photography: emancipating or objectifying?
cult of the supermodel: aspiration or veneration?
“A FASHION PHOTOGRAPHER SHOULD CONTRIBUTE TO DEFINING THE IMAGE OF THE CONTEMPORARY WOMAN OR MAN IN THEIR TIME, TO REFLECT A CERTAIN SOCIAL OR HUMAN REALITY”
- Peter Lindbergh (2014)
this important message was more evident in my after study than at the exhibition, a sad misappropriation by the curator who should rather be considering a position in marketing.
the most successful component of the exhibit must have been the club diorama in which the static nature of his imagery was brought to life and one could get a sense of being part of the eye behind the camera.
although most mainstream fashion is commercial presumption, and for that matter cheap, it doesn’t mean that one shouldn’t be responsible when representing it, it has great power; to unify, to divorce, to inspire, to judge, to create and to destroy. sadly this was a missed opportunity for showing such important work while simultaneously connecting it with the valid social importance it carries.
as for celebrating photographers, i can only hope they treat paolo roversi better (see honouring sebastião salgado).