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Cindy Sherman at MoMA, 1997

[Toward the tail end of my decade as the photography critic for the New York Observer I had the opportunity to review the Museum of Modern Art’s celebration of Cindy Sherman’s “Untitled Film Stills” series, a complete set of which they had recently acquired and were showing for the first time, in an exhibition sponsored […]

New Documents, Revisited (b)

Collectively, Arbus, Friedlander, and Winogrand revised the ways in which photographers used their cameras, which changed the look of the resulting photographs, and that they made the photographer’s participatory role in the photographic event a foregrounded given, which transformed both the behavior of photographers and the way we interpret their work. […]

New Documents, Revisited (a)

This non-political, anti-theoretical posture denies categorically and consistently that such photographs are in any way about their literal subject matter, insisting instead that photographs are entirely about themselves and in no way concerned with either the photographer’s inner life or whatever took place in front of the lens at the moment of exposure. As a stance, it became not just widespread but almost mandatory among practitioners of this genre of photography. […]

Time Capsule 1972: Collier’s Encyclopedia Yearbook

Conceptual art, happenings, and the snapshot aesthetic met again this year, often with better results than expected. Bernadette Mayer, a New York poet, shot an entire 36-exposure roll of color film every day for a month, had them printed by a drugstore processing concession, and mounted “Memory,” a show which included all 1,116 images in sequence, accompanied by a taped monologue which used the photos as a jumping-off place. […]

Shenzhen Economic Daily Interview, 2007 (b)

From a structural or theoretical standpoint, I think that China does not at present have a clear sense of what constitutes the actual history of photography in China. On the one hand, this has a certain liberating effect, leaving photographers and artists seemingly beholden to no particular traditions. On the other hand, it leaves them rootless and disconnected from the past and their own culture’s photographic history. […]