The Critical Mass pre-screening crew is finishing up pre-screening this week, and traditionally I take this opportunity to loosely attempt to categorize the wide reach of content that emerging photographers are putting out into the world. What matters to people? How are people portraying ideas, traditional and conceptual?
These are some of the trends (in the most positive sense of the word) that I jotted down during my pre-screening experience. Please note than no topic listed has any more weight than any other in Critical Mass - these are just across-the-board notations that I think give a window peek into topics photographers find relevant enough to create work around:
Specific international geographic places explored: Africa (Ethiopia Rwanda, Nigeria, Nairobi…), Korea, Iceland, Kabul, Romania, Greenland, Palestine, China, India, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Colombia, Morocco, Myanmar, Brazil, Yemen, Egypt, Cuba, Norway, Slovakia, Antarctica
Specific places in America explored: Pie Town (New Mexico), Salton Sea, Hawaii, Alaska, New York City, and quite a few on New Jersey!
General Geographic places explored: “The West”, “The South”, “The Suburbs”, “The City”, “The Ocean”
Specific places explored: newspaper presses, old-age homes, movie theaters in Kabul, theater booths, hotels on brink of demolition, forest shrines, trailer park communities, Libyan torture sites, extreme hoarding environment site, Mexican border town, Alaska’s North Slope
References to other artists in statements, usually in an inspirational sense: Robert Adams, Edward Weston, Ruth Bernhardt, Todd Hido, Alfred Steiglitz, Stephen Shore, Eugene Atget, Lee Friedlander, Minor White, Tina Barney, Martin Parr, Julia Margaret Cameron, Rembrandt
Projects with traditional photographic focus: self-portraiture, portraits of others, nudes, trees and forests, flowers, nighttime, clouds, county fairs, landscapes, oceanscapes
Projects that explore larger/abstract ideas: drying laundry, post-divorce life, the supernatural, reality, intimacy, suicide, heroin addiction, the urge to lose oneself, societal alienation, identity, totality of existence, life & death, memory, psychology of space, mental health, repressed emotions, guilt, Women and Pretending, five stages of grief to acceptance, color fields & spacial relationships, nostalgia, loneliness, fear of forgetting one’s personal history, life’s “in-between” moments, psychology of road trips, effects of economic recession, pattern alchemy, aggression
Projects that explore specific topics: chronic migraines, wrench typology, Tom Waits lyrics, colorblind-ness, polar bear swim, indie wrestling, election campaigns, meta data, teenagers at night, items from compost, struggling fashion models in their home environments, scans of diaper stains, waybills in 1970’s Castro district, the Last Supper, red-headed children, dogs in cars, photos of frozen cancerous tissue
Projects that show different societal trends or cultures: those who love artificial life-like babies, motor home culture, facial tattoos, ‘American Girl’ doll culture, Junior ROTC, newspaper, world of politics, brides of Central Park, yoga, plastic surgery to conform to societal standards, ‘Occupy Wall Street’ activism, man’s relationship to the wolf, military service, wrestling communities, mono cultures, cultural genocide of the First Nations People, hunting culture, homeschooling communities, prison communities, people driving in cars on Rodeo Drive
Projects that look at aspects of sexuality/relationships: online strippers, gay & lesbian youth at prom, transgender portraits and communities, intercultural marriages, masculine identity, wearing dresses, sexual identity day vs. night, S & M world
Projects that look at environmental issues: several projects on polluted bodies of water, effects of the Japanese tsunami, clashes of man made environments and nature, deer as roadkill, global warming using Google Earth to show, development of rural areas
Projects that look at Family issues: unhappy childhoods, returning home, examining one’s affluent family, parents starting over, parents divorcing, parents growing old, parents dying, family dynamic with grandfather being on Death Row, motherhood, miscarriage, marriage, interior lives of children
Projects that look at loved ones or selves with disabilities – physical or mental: borderline personality disorder, autism spectrum disorder, Asperger’s syndrome, dealing with internal growths, cancer, breast cancer, images that help cancer patients visualize light
Projects of various formats and mediums: diptychs, triptychs, hand sewn cross-stitches on ink jet prints, gunpowder explosions, wet-plate collodion, paint-based imagery, print-based imagery, vintage photography with light leaks through pinpricks, Polaroids, iPhone imagery, Google Earth, platinum/palladium, multi-medium collage
All of the work submitted to Critical Mass 2012 is recorded on DVD and copies sent to all who entered. It is our hope that people will utilize this record of Critical Mass to look at the work of their peers and think about how their own work fits into the larger survey of work being done at this point in time.
Next week: Finalist list will be announced!