Sunday, January 04, 2009

"Expiration Notice" - Under 35? Don't bother applying.

I've often thought that that there are certain areas of photography that were more like architecture than like, say, painting; in that many of the best practitioners often really don't come into their own until they get to - oh I don't know - around 50. In addition many often come to it from a different direction than the arts school and acadamie puppy-mills. (Some of Atget's most brilliant work wasn't done until he was in his late 60's and he didn't start photography until he was in his 40's after being a seaman, an actor and trying painting for a bit.).



Certainly a part of me cheers every time there's another new form of encouragement for "photographers under 30" - a new website to show their work, or a new 'zine or exhibition. But there's also a part of me that cringes each time that youth also seems to be tied to "emerging talent".

Being a young photographer doesn't actually = an "emerging talent". Frequently the organizers of whatever gallery/magazine/website clearly have to stretch the definition of "talent" a bit too far in order to get their quota of the "best 35 under 35" (or whatever it is) they are looking for. It's an incorrect assumption that photographers start around 18, go to school (or head out onto the street, assist, or jet off to the latest war), then do a couple of projects, then get them shown or published, get a gallery and so it goes - on from there. For one thing (except maybe for the ones that jet off to get their war in), there's often not much life experience in there - which is one of the big things that often shows.

I remember (Sir) Andre Previn once telling a technically brilliant young pianist that she really needed to go and have a passionate affair, get seriously laid, have her heart broken, see something of the world, go hungry, come back and then they'd really be able to see what she could do. She lacked the passion and experience to meld with her technical brilliance

Stan Banos and Mark Page of, respectively, Reciprocity Failure and Manchester Photography (among with a good few other old farts) are apparently of a similar opinion and so they have launched Expiration Notice. I'll let them explain it in their own words:

"...Mark Page and I are launching a new website, or more accurately, a new online gallery called Expiration Notice catering to 35 yr olds and over (kids, that's what ya get for excluding your elders from your predesignated venues). We plan on exhibiting the work of two photographers every month, so submissions will be ongoing, no particular theme...

Frankly, this undertaking may flat out tank, or it may turn into one very valuable resource for photographers (and other lovers of the medium) to engage in some excellent photography by unfamiliar names who have achieved high level bodies of work, and are currently lacking gallery representation. Obviously, we're hoping and betting on the latter.

So, if you're past the age that values the aesthetics of sagging trousers... Represent!
..."

(hmm... what about if you are reaching the age where you are beginning to value the comfort of sagging trousers? - tim)




"After various online debates about ageism within the art world and the fact that "emerging talent" really seems to mean "young talent" and the fact that if you've not made it by the time you're thirty-five you are going to struggle.
Add to this the fact that so many competitions have a cut off age around thirty and it was all beginning to piss me right off.

So me and Stan thought well lets play them at their own game only we'll put out a shout for over thirty fives. All that life experience, technical experience less of a willingness to swallow the latest art photography fad, and we should be onto a winner.

So if you want to appear in the first crop you need to be over 35 not have gallery representation and of course be fucking good!

For guidelines contact details and general info go here to our shiny new site."



7 comments:

Stan B. said...

Tim- Allow me to clarify, I wear "baggies" all the time. "Sagging" refers strictly to when worn below the arse. Apologies all around for any initial confusion...

Glenn Twiggs said...

Thanks much for pointing to this resource. I feel young and useful all over again.

Tashai said...

Awesome idea. As "late bloomers", my partner and I have long thought of doing something similar. Kudos to you for actually doing it.

Love that bottom image by the way.

Tim Connor said...

Best thing I've heard about in a long time. Having reached the same conclusion you did ("emerging" = under 30) I was distrustful of it as another potential excuse for self pity. I could have written your post but didn't have this wonderful site to point to. Thank you for bringing it all together.

fentable said...

It takes that long to realize my dogs also use photographs...discuss

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Ross said...

This reminds me of something John Szarkowski said in 'The Photographer's Eye,' about how 'since its earliest days, photography has been practiced by thousands who shared no common tradition or training, who were disciplined and united by no academy or guild, who considered their medium variously as a science, an art, a trade, or an entertainment, and who were often unaware of each other's work.'

I think, overall, society is just youth-oriented. Young artists are going to get the bulk of the attention and/or investment, cause I guess it's presumed that they have more energy to offer, or have the potential for a greater following. It's sort of like the movie All About Eve. Margo Channing wasn't a photographer. She was an actress, but ... she found it hard to be an old artist in the presence of the constant stream of youth churning around her.

But I think photography is unique among art forms, in that ... you can pick it up on your own. Painting, drawing, music, acting ... all require more training. Not to say photography doesn't require teaching. It does. But cameras are so ingrained into our culture that the door is more open for people of all ages to enter into photography ... than it is for other disciplines.