The photograph as contemporary art – Charlotte Cotton

I read this book whilst my Foundation portfolio was at the OCA. I thought it looked interesting, and the slim size meant that it went everywhere with me. I rarely encounter text books that I want to read from cover to cover, but this one did it for me. I appreciated its detailed focus on modern work, other books have left me slightly frustrated at the end, wondering what happened next.

This one is well written and accessible to a relatively new student. Each of the eight sections is full of images and each image is well documented. I only encountered one photographer who had documentation but not image; and that was possibly unsurprising given that the work being discussed was a long exposure of the movements of classified  US military surveillance planes (Trevor Paglen Other Night Sky, 2008). I thought the images worked well within each section and I now have a far more structured understand of contemporary photography and the different genres found therein.

I’ve identified two images/practitioners from each section who I would like to learn more about, they are listed below.

Chapter 1 If This is Art – Philip-Lorca di Corcia “Heads” and Bettina von Zwehi’s 3-part series.

Chapter 2 Once Upon a Time – Yinka Shonibare “Victorian Dandy”, Deborah Mesa-Pelly “Legs”.

Chapter 3 Deadpan – Gursky “Prada 1”, Jacqueline Hassink’s work on business spaces.

Chapter 4 Something and Nothing – Nigel Shafran “Sewing kit on plastic table”, Jennifer Bolande Globe series.

Chapter 5 Intimate Life – Ruth Erdt (portraits of family and friends), Brenda Beban “The Miracle of Death”.

Chapter 6 – Moments in History – Simon Norfolk “Destroyed Radio Installations”, Esko Mannikko rural life in Finland.

Chapter 7 Revived and Remade – Trish Morrissey, Zoe Leonard and Cheryl Dunye “The Fae Richards Photo Archive”

Chapter 8 Physical and Material – Sherrie Levine “After Walker Evans”, Lucas Blalock “Both Chairs in CW’s Living Room”.


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