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Post #418 • November 30, 2004, 7:19 AM • 70 Comments

I got images. I got images of recent art shows coming out of my ears. But I'm so exhausted from a day of life in Miami that the computer screen is going blurry and taking the rest of the room with it. Because I have no TV, I've been reading old posts. Life in the fast lane, people.

Since I'm almost too tired to blink, I've decided to go with the big spread of images on Wednesday and was going to put up a quote or something when Snitzer Gallery sent me this gem of a press release:

In "Untitled (Ocean)" a lone female figure rises from the sea like an ancient creature, her back and breast blending into the darkening dusk while her raised machete gleams from the last light of the day. It is a mournfully triumphant image, romantic in the wake of pre-Raphaelite paintings, and glamorously gory battle scenes. The power of the image is that her gesture embodies all women, from mythical goddess to cast out whore. Like a reversed Ophelia she rises from the sea to battle an empty horizon, acting out a hybrid role of women as portrayed throughout art history: from winged Victory leading battles; Salome crying for the head of John the Baptist; channeling Medusa in her snake-like hair; Judith with her heavy sword raised; Venus birthing from the sea; to the Sirens leading sailors astray...

Ellispes courtesy Snitzer Gallery. We're discussing this image by Naomi Fisher:

I couldn't write something that campy about it if I spent a week reading Joseph Cambell in front of daytime soap operas. I disagree with the above assessment, needless to say; I think she looks like she's doing something naked and histrionic. Again. It reinforces my many-worlds theory about the art world - she's in the art world, I'm in the art world, but it's not the same art world. Our two art worlds touch but don't overlap. In my art world, wake doesn't equal manner. In her art world, if a work of art makes you think about enough things, it succeeds.

But in this case, only the press release makes me think about the "hybrid role of women as portrayed throughout art history" and whatnot. The photograph itself makes me think that they have some kind of vat full of self-importance over at New World that they force-feed their students like they were geese being fattened for foie gras. The photograph gives me a chuckle; frankly, I feel embarassed for the artist.

But the fact that people buy the kind of absurdity stated above troubles me. Maybe it has always been thus, but reality seems to be leaking out of the world, replaced by spin. It's sad that stating the obvious has become a subversive activity, but here goes: the photo looks like competent art-student work, and the claims being made for it are unadulterated twaddle.




November 30, 2004, 4:55 PM

Actually i think she is hacking away at a submerged art dealer. It's called "editing".

Or maybe she just saw "Jaws".

Frankly, I think the photo deserves the text.

Most of the objectionable blue (on the site not the photograph) is gone, but it it still surrounds the menu of previous days, making it hard to read.



November 30, 2004, 5:21 PM

"In her art world, if a work of art makes you think about enough things, it succeeds."

That sums up how I feel about a lot of what I see. It's as if the visual art world has been taken over by bad writers.


that guy in the back row

November 30, 2004, 5:27 PM

I think if she were more aware of the history of photography she wouldn't be exhibiting this sort of thing. I recommend she check out Mario Giacomelli, who did landscapes/portraits from about this distance, only much better.



November 30, 2004, 5:39 PM

Whoa . . . let's relax and settle down a bit here, kids. Maybe this is a painters-looking-at-photography issue, but i don't see any of the problems you describe. Creating original photography in this day is just as hard as creating original painting, and I think Fisher does a good job. This is obviously part of a new body of work for her, and it's interesting how it relates to, and departs from, her previous work. I would say the picture is moody and evocative.

Now, the press release is clearly art-world hyperbole, but that's almost expected. Should not the text that is presented with art provide the most positive angle possible on that artwork. Should not it present the most extreme positive case? Look... I love Helen Frankenthaler , but when I read the introduction to a huge book of her art, I found some of it (though less, by volume) to be hyperbole similar to what's in Snitzer's release.

When Franklin writes about Balthus, his writing is free of hyperbole. But i'd bet if you looked at the introduction to a book about Balthus' art, you'd find it there, too.



November 30, 2004, 5:59 PM

Uh, Franklin, the text is back to being too big, heavy and black. I'd comment on the photo above, but it's of less interest to me than the text.



November 30, 2004, 6:05 PM

Guy: I'm sure Fisher knows her photo history. I think you're showing your lack of understanding of developments in photography over the last ten or twenty years to suggest her work is similar to Giacomelli's.

Jack: On my computer, holding down the "Ctrl" key and scroling with the mouse wheel resizes the text. Perhaps that will help?



November 30, 2004, 6:12 PM

On second thought, I'll comment (though I still find the text issue more compelling). People who fall for the twaddle, like people who buy into and actually pay for this sort of thing, are welcome to it. They deserve it, since they're the ones who make it possible and sustain it. As for Snitzer, he wants to sell the stuff, and he knows how the game is played; he's simply playing by the current rules.



November 30, 2004, 6:15 PM

Yes, Alesh, that did the trick. Thanks.


that guy in the back row

November 30, 2004, 6:30 PM

Alesh I don't think my "lack of understanding of developments in photography over the last ten or twenty years" even if I did possess such a deficiency, matters when we are discussing the quality of Ms. Fishers' work. I just mentioned Giacomelli as someone she should look at. She can take it or leave it.



November 30, 2004, 6:40 PM



I got to pick a bone with you here. I won't do it on the basis of your take on the photo except to say that to me it seems just silly, way short of "evocative and moody", and evocative and moody wouldn't do it for me anyway. But, OK, we have a difference of opinion.

However, don't start on the one type of artist can't see another kind of art thing. This is invidious and unsupportable. Anyone who takes art seriously must reflect on one's own capacity for seeing in any medium and understand whatever shortcomings there are. I had a hole-in-the-wall gallery when I was a kid, back in the good ole days when photography was not even considered an art, and I showed photography and got "laughed at". I still admit to some particular limitations when looking at photography. But I think I can see it pretty well - and sculpture, and ceramics etc - despite being a painter. Others can or cannot see photography or any kind of art accordingly. It is case by case and not legitimately subject to generalization.

Furthermore, there is no defense for the kind of tripe Franklin quoted above, none whatsoever. When he says it is "not the same art world" he is making sense. For you to say it is to "be expected" and equate it to "the most positive angle" is just to lie down and let the sewage wash over you. And then you go on to say that, well, look at those good painters out there, they get crap written about them, too, which in the context of the dicussion is entirely pointless.

You don't apologize, justify or rationalize bad art or bad writing. if you do you are part of it.



November 30, 2004, 6:42 PM

The curious thing about this sort of operatic imagery is just how prevalent it has become in the general culture. A bleached blond brawling Irishman as a fabulous looking bisexual conquering the world comes to mind. Why the hell do we need this mythological imagery anyway? Is this some symptom of the West's new need for heroic images as it rekindles the bloody Crusades?


Groucho Marxist

November 30, 2004, 6:47 PM

I am all for "naked and historic". "Campy" is pretty awesome too. Franklin, I think that the art world is probably big enough for YOU and the CAMPY-NAKED-HISTORIC.

However, I am not wild about this stuff either. I would much rather watch a campy monster movie. Campy monster movies usually have some "naked or historic" without the pretentiousness. They also usually have plenty more violence and sometimes better naked. . . always better monsters. . . oh, and much more interesting titles than "Untitled-(Ocean)". . . I am so dreadfully tired of untitled art.



November 30, 2004, 7:09 PM

Sure, Groucho, so do I. There is all kinds of entertaining stuff out there to indulge in. I watched "Temors" on TV the other night, for the third time. Great monsters, silly pretext, tongue-in-cheek nonsense, but it holds up for me. I don't want it to be "art". Screw that. It entrertains me. (well, so does good art, but that's another matter).

It may be quite possible to be entertained by the fatuous blurb above. It certainly is a great specimen of it's kind, a veritable archetype of overripe, sophomoric art bilge. But you have to get past the fact that it hits home. That's not so easy.

The photo is dullsville no matter how you look at it.


Blue Nude

November 30, 2004, 7:46 PM

The fact that this image is posted and even being considered as art is a statement on the art worlds ineptness. If she was facing the viewer there would atleast be some teta.



November 30, 2004, 8:10 PM

Alesh: you are stupid ! ! !



November 30, 2004, 8:57 PM

Well, in defense of Ms. Fisher, it should be noted that there's only so much mileage to be had from photos of tropical flora insinuating itself up various female body crevices. Remember the Madonna principle: a "new" image as soon as the previous one starts to look old hat. Possible future developments: Amazons galloping along Brickell and wild maenads on Biscayne Blvd. Stay tuned.



November 30, 2004, 9:18 PM

Nice! That's some sort of first for

Oldpro~ I understand why you are quick to be offended by my comment above. Of course I have no way of knowing that it's the painters' inability to see photography that is causing any particular person to dislike the photo in question. I think that was clear from my wording.

You might consider, though, that if such a bias WAS at work in a person's judgment, that person would probably be unable to see it for themselves. And, in the aggregate of judgments both on this site and in my real world experience, i notice that the effect is very real.

Another thing. I am neither 'old' nor a 'pro'. I enjoy today's art world in the way that I experience it. I'm sure that if I was to have experienced some of the things you did when you were younger, I'd find a lot of what's going on now tiresome and lacking.

But Nat Hentoff said, "new ways of music require new ways of listening." I believe a similar soft of thing holds for art. Jack makes a point of pride of looking at new stuff in his particular old way. I wonder where you see yourself in relation to that.

But being a fan of "early" art photography does not, by itself, qualify you to understand and appreciate modern art photography. How do you feel about the stuff in Margulies' collection?


miss crabby

November 30, 2004, 9:34 PM

oh, don't get me started on naomi fisher. i've been in the doghouse with snitzer ever since i penned this review for MOCA's Travels in Hyperreality show on the miami art exchange:

"I don't get the alleged profundity in Naomi Fisher's much acclaimed bird-of-paradise-in-asshole-series, nor do I enjoy looking at them, cibachrome brightness notwithstanding."

i agree with franklin, that he couldn't come up with a campier explanation of the new show if he tried. alas, i'm out of town and can't see the new work. but you all have fun at art basel. i don't miss it a bit. in fact, i'm relieved to be away.


miss crabby

November 30, 2004, 9:35 PM

oh, don't get me started on naomi fisher. i've been in the doghouse with snitzer ever since i penned this review for MOCA's Travels in Hyperreality show on the miami art exchange:

"I don't get the alleged profundity in Naomi Fisher's much acclaimed bird-of-paradise-in-asshole-series, nor do I enjoy looking at them, cibachrome brightness notwithstanding."

i agree with franklin, that he couldn't come up with a campier explanation of the new show if he tried. alas, i'm out of town and can't see the new work. but you all have fun at art basel. i don't miss it a bit. in fact, i'm relieved to be away.


miss crabby

November 30, 2004, 9:36 PM

sorry about the double posting, it happened when i tried to refresh the page.



November 30, 2004, 10:40 PM


I was not offended in the least. I was merely pointing out some basic things you might want to take heed of, the first among them being that it is probably not a good idea to make excuses for things you perceive as being not right.

You seem to have a penchant for thinking in categories. First it was that non-photographers can't truly see photographs. Now it is that old folks can't see young folks stuff, can't understand it, lack the "new ways of seeing". This is bullshit. Sensitivity to art is a matter of sensitivity to art, not one's age, or profession, or anything else. I half expect you to tell me I have to be black to like blues music, or Chinese to like egg rolls. C'mon!



November 30, 2004, 11:08 PM

Not that you "have to." But that's just the way it is, more often then not.

By the way, I wanted to comment on what you said earlier, that to defend Fred's press release is to " . . . let the sewage wash over you."

Perhaps true. I was saying that there is a purpose for that kind of writing, even though we would not read it the same way we would read, say, Franklin's opinion about someone's artwork. I am not saying I accept it face value, so i don't think the sewage metaphor, picturesque as it is, quite holds.



November 30, 2004, 11:41 PM

I like this photo. What is the size? Hope it isn't HUGE. As for the text, I usually try not to read those things, unless I really don't get the work and think I'm missing something.



November 30, 2004, 11:52 PM

I want to add that some people (many people?) - including Franklin - feeling embarassment or pity for the artist only increases the sense of vulnerability, rage, frustration, futility and alone-ness I already get from the photo.

I just hope it isn't too big.



November 30, 2004, 11:57 PM

alesh just admit it, the photo sucks.
you're entitled to feel what ever you want, but c,mon. look at it again......
go on look at it.... did you get it...... Ok, now can you tell me that's a good photograph?
And if so why?



December 1, 2004, 12:03 AM

martin, i just read what you posted. You get a feeling of vulnerability, rage, frustration from this? Well I get the frustration part. God bless you my son, God bless you.


Oscar Wilde

December 1, 2004, 12:17 AM

". . . All art is at once surface and symbol.
Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.
Those who read the symbol do so at their peril.
It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors. . . "

--from the preface of The Picture of Dorian Gray



December 1, 2004, 12:24 AM


If you really believe that one must, "more often than not" be Chinese to like egg rolls, well, as Eddie says, God bless you.

As for the sewage question, you stated:

I call that defending what you know is wrong. If that is what you want to do, then, once again, God bless you. I'm not going to argue with you.



December 1, 2004, 12:27 AM

Alesh's statement did not go up. It was:

"the press release is clearly art-world hyperbole, but that's almost expected. Should not the text that is presented with art provide the most positive angle possible on that artwork. Should not it present the most extreme positive case?"



December 1, 2004, 12:29 AM

alesh: i agree with Comment, your STUUUUPID....


Jerome du Bois

December 1, 2004, 12:43 AM

"'Scuse me, while I cut this sky!"

There's nothing there.

Victory had her legions, Medusa her ossified victims, Salome and Judith their victims' heads, Venus had her porpoise, the Sirens had their sailors.

She fights nothing.




December 1, 2004, 12:49 AM


Now you're just being an asshole. The bullshit about egg rolls is YOUR words. You know damn well what I said, and if not you can go back and read for yourself.

As for the statement, I defended it's right to exist in the world, rather then its accuracy.



December 1, 2004, 12:58 AM

Vat, i didn't say alesh was STUUUPID, I said hewas stupid, on secon thought, you may be right. Artblog, it's time to post better art so we can stop the mental masturbation.



December 1, 2004, 1:07 AM

love the best ettiquette for basel guys.



December 1, 2004, 1:10 AM

oldpro... you and your minions suck big time!!!


Jerome du Bois

December 1, 2004, 1:34 AM

oldpro has minions?

I haven't had single minion in my entire life. Are they any good?




December 1, 2004, 1:41 AM

This work merely demonstrates how unsophisticated and what little respect Fisher has for art. From my own experience I have found that art can be so much more. Maybe I am the one misguided.


you beware

December 1, 2004, 1:58 AM

"This work merely demonstrates how unsophisticated and what little respect Fisher has for art."

you obviously do not know fisher very well. she not only has respect for art, she loves it, even all those impressionist painters that you and the rest of the oldpro minions adore.



December 1, 2004, 2:00 AM

I'd like to contribute something thoughtful, but I'm laughing too hard at Jerome's Hendrix reference. We should have a Caption The Art contest sometime.



December 1, 2004, 2:29 AM

Why, sure, Jerome. Minions taste like egg rolls. You can only enjoy them if you are a Chinese indentured servant.

Ask Alesh, but be prepared to be called a nasty name. He thinks they are something you slice and put on hamburgers, and that the only people capable of enjpying them are people from Germany.



December 1, 2004, 2:30 AM

I was rereading the press release above. It is, of course, a bombastic, breathless puff piece, but it is curious how it co-opts numerous "traditional" references in an attempt to confer respectability and weight to what is, in effect, something fairly close to a perfume ad in an upscale fashion magazine. Nice blues, though.



December 1, 2004, 2:38 AM

I think she is chopping kelp, Franklin. Those other stems, the big hard ones with the flowers on the other end, got irritating after a while.



December 1, 2004, 2:41 AM

How about "Statue of Liberty: 2004"



December 1, 2004, 2:44 AM

Franklin, do you know who wrote the press release?



December 1, 2004, 2:51 AM

Jack, I don't. It certifiably comes via Snitzer Gallery. It could be Mssr. or Mdme. Snitzer, could be Fisher, could be somebody else.



December 1, 2004, 2:53 AM

Jerome, you might also enjoy Filet Minion, a cannibal dish prepared by eviscerating a servile follower.



December 1, 2004, 3:00 AM

Maybe that's what she's doing.



December 1, 2004, 3:06 AM

No, Franklin, I discovered through private sources that the actual title of the picture is

Statue of Liberty: 2004

You know, waiting for the tired, the poor, the huddled masses. Updated, of course.



December 1, 2004, 3:33 AM

If I don't have any minions, does it mean I lack lackeys?

Martin - My feeling embarassment for the artist increases the sense of vulnerability (etc.) you get from the photo? I don't understand this.

Ref: yeah, right?

Beware/You Beware: I draw no conclusions about Fisher's person from her work. Not only is that the intentional fallacy, I've also found on a practical level that you never know what motivates people. Nevertheless, I've not heard Beware praise Impressionist work on this blog, and YB's saying that he does, with the implication that is some kind of shortcoming, is pretty dumb.



December 1, 2004, 3:49 AM

It reinforces my many-worlds theory about the art world - she's in the art world, I'm in the art world, but it's not the same art world.


in this case, only the press release makes me think about the "hybrid role of women as portrayed throughout art history" and whatnot.

thank you for posting this. i am often troubled by the increasing amount of art, photography especially, that relies on being given meaning and intention by the one writing the press release (or the review), fostering the misconception that one looking at the piece without reading the accompanying blurb will somehow lack a full understanding of the piece--because the piece is unfinished without the accompanying blurb.

good, immanent critique is thoughtful, informed, and does add layers of meaning upon understanding art. but most of it is of this piped in drivel variety. it makes one sigh with despair, or contempt.



December 1, 2004, 8:02 AM

I like this photo. My first step was to ignore the text, and just look at the work. After looking at it at length, I thought about it, completely willingly, because I enjoyed what I saw in the first place. Finally I returned to the text in the press release, and I can see where it's coming from.

Visually speaking, the composition is actually quite classical (as far as my uneducated eye can tell in any event). The figure's pose is stable and triangular, holding its own in an eye-catching spot of the image. (The pose might even be considered natural, the hand just at the apex of its swinging arc.) The figure is dramatically framed against an undulating background in analogous shades of blue, the sky and the water colors so similar that the background becomes really quite fascinating, with the horizon bisecting the figure symmetrically.

The pose is intriguing in itself (again, visually, not conceptually). It's easy enough to see the strong line of the raised right arm extending in a curve down the right side of the back, along the spine, but look how the line of that same arm also continues across the back, along the dark line of hair plastered against the upper back, bounding across the area of highlighted skin below the left shoulder, and terminating in the visible left breast hanging downward, like a counterpoint to the hand all the way above. I love that line. The shape of the left breast also echoes symmetrically the round right shoulder, and of course the left arm stabilizes the "object" of this visual figure to the "floor" of the sea. The flying hair also adds some interest, though perhaps this is the weakest element of the figure.

Remaining in purely visual mode, the angle of the machete perfectly frames the triangular cloud at the left of the image, and the hand and machete divide the clouds between solid blue and swirling blue-versus-white. Another thing -- tho not as strong as the other relationships -- the line of the machete plays nicely against the line of the wave in the lower-right, setting up another triangle. Finally, the large oval-shaped break in the clouds forms a secondary center of interest, against the main figure of the woman.

I found the image visually arresting, so I was glad to keep looking at it, and eventually started thinking more deeply about it. Holy cow, I thought, there's a woman with a machete in there. A woman with a pretty beautiful figure, at that. (Did I mention? With a machete?) Quite aggressive. "Histrionic," if you like. But also quite unexpected.

So I think it's a pleasing composition, but also an unusual and unique image. Visually, I think it works all the way around. As far as its narraitve, I won't try to get into the woman's mind, but she's certainly emotional about something. Everyone will have different ideas about the story whose frozen pane we're witnessing (e.g., what role does her left hand play?), but I prefer to remain agnostic, and try to conceive as many story lines as possible. Maybe she's killing someone/ something, defending herself against an attacker, or even just crying out to someone/ something beyond our view (the machete is in an awkward position for effectively striking anything in the water, for example).

I also come back to the break in the clouds. It's shaped like an eye, or a mouth. Is it watching her? Speaking to her? Is she looking toward it, taking a cue? Away from it, turning her back? Are they working together, or against each other? This is all either meaningful or it isn't, but I think the photo works because the visual elements engender further intellectual interest.

After spending all this time looking at the photo, and thinking about it, all the while paying no heed to the text above, but returning to it afterward, I admit can see where the press release comes from. If I have to fault it at all, I wouldn't fault it for being over-dramatic, or blame the gallery for trying to generate interest in the work, but rather I'd complain that the text excluded any visual analysis of the image itself. A convincing aesthetic assessment might have provided a stronger justification for the philosophical one presented above, and given the gallery-goer more confidence about the artwork as a whole.



December 1, 2004, 4:12 PM

Hovig, this is a thoughtful analysis. Let me respond by explaining what I mean by "competent art-student work".

The photograph has no great visual flaws; aspects of it are even pleasing. You point this out at length, and correctly so. We expect art students to be able to solve technical problems like this and create solid compositions in the process. (Although the last technical evaluation, printing quality, we would have to see the work in person to evaluate, and I'm not 100% convinced about this composition.)

We also expect a certain amount of theatricality, which is usually what beginning artists try to inject into their work in an attempt to infuse it with profundity, which is often beyond them. It's practically a cliche that the comely girl in the Photo 2 class will make a protracted series of images of her naked self; there's nothing wrong with this, but we expect eventually that she'll either move on or develop the series into something that holds up in a more substantial way.

And the theatricality itself isn't the problem - the theatricality at the expense of profundity is. (My class was just looking at Sargent yesterday, and the complaint against him is similar.) Fisher's photograph expresses that the act of making the photograph was a dramatic and self-conscious experience. Consequently the photo itself is stilted and unconvincing. It's like the difference between good acting and bad acting. Good acting absorbs you into the experience and makes you forget that you're watching actors. Bad acting continually and painfully reminds you that you're watching actors. With this image Fisher is landing somewhere between the two, closer to the latter.

This is where the press release comes in. Profoundity isn't coming into the image, and the copywriter seems to be aware of this. His or her response is to force profoundity into it by citing an impressive - but irrelevant - string of mythological and biblical references. These references have art historical examples by the score if not the hundreds, so the hope, apparently, is to try to lift this image into the realm of capital-A art with the forklift of exegesis. But so many references are cited with such vigor that the effect is reversed: what looks like a desperate attempt at profundity in the photograph is accompanied by a desperate attempt to perceive profundity in the pr. The total result is doubly dreary, even if the image has its virtues.



December 1, 2004, 4:45 PM

An awful lot of talk about very little. if you can't see that this is an ordinary picture with arty pretentions and that the blurb is pathetically strained and awkward you should either get another hobby or try harder and expect more. This is mediocre art and very bad writing. it is as simple as that.



December 1, 2004, 5:01 PM

you and your minions oldpro... you don't care about art...behind that comfortable mask of yours...



December 1, 2004, 5:33 PM

Testing. Don't mind me.



December 1, 2004, 5:39 PM

Oldpro, if I'm not mistaken, you should now be seeing white instead of nasty link blue behind the sidebar. Yes?



December 1, 2004, 6:37 PM

All this blather has destroyed what I thought was, initially, an interesting photo. That press release, gawd, puhleeze. When I first saw the image I saw it in the context of Afro-Caribbean art, even though Fisher so far has stayed away from that (from what little I've seen of her work). Constantly invoking Classical Greece and Renassiance art has started to wear on me worse than too-tight undies (if such could be worn). I'll now need to come back to the image later and see how much of this I can forget so that I can see it with fresher eyes. I still think the Afro-Caribbean reference is more appropriate than the ones in the press release.



December 1, 2004, 7:40 PM

Franklin: yes, thanks.

Porky: if you have a problem, lets talk.

I am heartened and impressed by the activity on this particular page, everyone talking their own slant on a work of art & a piece of wriiting. Full moon? Basel coming up? Whatever. It was lively and fun. And, as I recall, only one incident of nasty name-calling. A lot of the posters were new (new aliases, anyway). I hope they keep posting.



December 1, 2004, 8:06 PM


I'd better address this, otherwise god knows how long you'll make snippy remarks about it.

You disagreed with something I wrote, and attacked a straw man version of the argument instead of what I actually said, putting quasi-racist words in my mouth in the process. It ticked me off way more then it should have.


Anyway, I was called stupid two times, so I think your name-calling count is a bit off.



December 1, 2004, 8:19 PM

I had no intention of saying anything further.

I guess "stupid" is name calling too, so, OK.



December 2, 2004, 2:07 AM

I really like this photo of Naomi's. Like Onajide, I too think of Afro-Caribbean imagery/culture. I also think of revolution! I think of Haiti, I think of verdant jungle. I think of feminism, and also of the watery and feminine. Like Hovig, I can see where the press release is trying to come from; but I don't usually use a press release to evaluate art, only to evaluate the press release itself.

People have always reacted strongly to images of women with knives. It is not a very well-accepted image, historically.

The use of the word histrionic to describe this work damns the user at the same time as it confirms the subject of the photo, I think.



December 2, 2004, 6:50 AM

Kathleen, you seem to be confirming the notion that if the work of art makes you think about enough things, it succeeds. In my estimation, that doesn't work. For me it succeeds if I detect a successful alignment of material, composition, technique, and feeling. In the case of this photo, I find the last item to be coming off as forced or false.

If use of the word histrionic damns me of something, I'd like to hear what it is.



December 2, 2004, 6:40 PM

Franklin is right.

Advertising photos are triggers for thought. If it is art it has to be all there, not somewhere else, not even on a label next to it.



December 2, 2004, 7:59 PM

Guys, I can't make some of the assessments you are talking about until I see the work in person, and also in context.

Naomi's work has underlying themes of violence, the presence and role of nature, and feminism, and this photo is solidly within her larger body of work, while being quite different from those works she became well known for. I feel that this is a successful image for her, and I am keen to see it.

The ideas one thinks about while looking at a work are extremely important! You seem to be discounting that part of work simply because there are many ideas to think about, which to me seems to be a ridiculous thing to do. Clearly, bad work can offer up a plethora of ideas as well, and I have in fact many times been inspired by work that was not functioning as it could. However, based on what I have seen so far, I think that Naomi's photo is good. It is a good work. She has a history of making good photos, so I have no reason to suspect that this one is somehow deficit in ways that her others were not.

Franklin, I know that you have some issues with contemporary photography in general, especially local photography (thinking of the infamous SKINS), and I'm not surprised that this photo is not doing it for you.

I can't say anything about the feeling portion of your panel of assesments being forced or false; I don't have that difficulty. Personally, I am right there! I want to be naked, half-submerged in the sea, rising up with an f-ing machete! Hell yea!! I want that feeling of rebellion, of freedom, of courage, of emergence from having been submerged. Yes. Liberation.

As for the word histrionic, I was yesterday working with the assumption that it was more along the lines of hysterical, but I was wrong. I see that the word is related to the latin root word for actor (histrio), rather than the greek word for womb (hustera). So, forgive me for damning you. Though, to defend myself a wee bit, it seems to me that histrionic is rarely used to refer to men. Let's try it: John Ashcroft was engaging in his usual histrionic behaviour when he ordered the draping of a couple of nude statues before giving his briefing. Hm, I think it works fine! (Though maybe it was Rummy, I don't know, I can't tell those guys with the sour, square heads apart; it is inexplicable)



December 2, 2004, 8:00 PM

franklin - i believe Duchamp and Conceptual art developed in the 60s is all about making their audience think. Many works lacked material like some works of Robert Barry and composition is regulated to a typed piece of paper signed by an artist. Art has been liberarted from your definition. And for that matter, painting have existed all over the map when it comes to the criteria of materials, techniques and compositions. Feeling have been irradicated in art, thus, the exhibition 'Beyong geometry'

oldpro - Advertising photos only triggers the impulse to buy. Very un-GNU! Ads photos are only good for appropriation in art..

I think Naomi Fisher's image has some uneasiness about it. It's not the reference to Classical European Art history -- which can be argued isn't foreign to afro-caribbean traditions, or the melodramatic content. I find the choreography captured in the moment a bit unbalaced, restrained and tight. It puts me on edge and yearn for the release from this climactic event --which surely would be address in the exhibition.

I am sure that histionic was used perjoratively toward female artists who weren't taken seriously or worse dismissed because of gender bias. so Franklin beware of kathleen's damnation.

And if it hasn't been said, a press release is not an artist statement.



December 2, 2004, 9:52 PM

Kathleen: The ideas one thinks about while looking at a work are extremely important! Very true. But, again, being made to think about a lot of ideas does not guarantee, or even indicate, the success of a work of art. This one is a case in point.

You seem to be discounting that part of work simply because there are many ideas to think about, which to me seems to be a ridiculous thing to do. It would be ridiculous, if I were doing it. On the contrary, the photograph offers decent technical competency and many ideas to think about. Again, the feeling is unconvincing. I don't believe it. And furthermore, many of the many ideas wouldn't be in my head if it weren't for this press release, which cited examples of women from Torah to Shakespeare in an overheated attempt to supply referents. I don't believe that either.

...I know that you have some issues with contemporary photography in general... Let me point out here that your evidence for this is a review I wrote over four years ago.

As for the word histrionic... Right. As Opus would say, phbbttthhh.

Gumiami: Art has been liberated from your definition. I wasn't setting out a definition. I was expressing my criteria, such as I can given the intuitive nature of the process. And of course art has never been confined to my criteria. It is free to do whatever it wants. Including suck.

Even geometric, minimal art carries a cool feeling with it that can be used to great effect, and this is proven by Beyond Geometry, so I'm told.

I am sure that histionic was used perjoratively... What makes you sure? It sounds just like something a sexist person would say, or might have said once, if he thought that the "his" and the "hys" came from the same place, doesn't it? Must be true then. Beware my damnation of your thinking.



December 3, 2004, 12:34 AM


Conceptual art did not "liberate art" from any "definition". If anything, it merely continued the modern process by which, by this time, any possible definition pr description of art has expanded to encompass just about everything. Similarly, "feelings" have not been "irradicated" (I assume you meant "eradicated") from art just because there is some art (I would say most art) that lacks feeling.

Advertising photos, just like most non-art visual representations, are meant to be allusive, to get you thinking and associating for a specific purpose. Much second-rate art does the same. I used it as an instance.

I don't know what "un-GNU" is, unless you mean "not like an African antelope".

We are all at the mercy of typos & I am no exception but "perjorative" is "pejorative" and I believe you mean "relegated" instead of "regulated".



December 3, 2004, 12:54 AM

Obviously, gnumiami made the same error I did in interpreting the word.

I'm not sure that I could tell you what would guarantee or even indicate the success of a work of art; I'm not suggesting that a profundance of ideas do.

I just happen to have a lot of ideas about the work. The ideas please me, and make me excited to see the work.

I also get a lot of feeling from the work, and that feeling has a basis in my own knowledge and experience. I feel an affinity for it. You don't. That's that. Successful for me, unsuccessful for you.

About the four-year old review: isn't that awesome!! You've been reviewing for at least four years, and I can reference it!! That's not to say that I'm awesome, but that it is awesome to have a long (four years is not very long, but still an acheivement), attended career. Your body of writing has not occurred in a vacuum, Franklin! We remember! I was surprised it had been so long, actually . .

I didn't mean to imply that you hadn't grown. Forgive me if I did. I take back the reference.

I'm off to be a friendly face with a docent tag for MAM's event tonight, after which I'm going to the show at Lummus Park. See y'all later!



December 3, 2004, 1:40 AM

can one not argue that a definition which have come to include new terms and ideas is in essence a liberation from the trappings the previous definition?

criteria for art, not definition? not even a loose one?

thank kathhleen for enlighten us on the etymology of the word.
thanks oldpro for correcting my typos. and for more on GNU refer to



December 3, 2004, 2:49 AM

I was talking about clarity and precision. We have had something we call "art" for a long time, and what is generally accepted as "art" has included more types of things over time. We are not "liberated" from a "definition", we accept more in the name of the word. You do not change the definition of a class by including more in it unless the additions contradict the original definition. Franklin put it nicely: Art "is free to do whatever it wants. Including suck."



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