Well, when I saw these the first time around, the ‘wow’ factor was way up because I thought they were paintings. After I found out they’re photos, it did shift from ‘wow’ to ‘huh?’ And if you’re going by the Dave Hickey format, that’s a bad thing. But I’m still into them. But I know them only as jpegs. So am I into them? Is blogging really writing? I think my brain needs a ‘light tweaking’ right now, har har…
If Carla’s description of the titles (“unfunny humorous”) is meant to be critical then I do agree with that.
I still hope that someone somewhere will weigh in on whether or not registering the technique Blackmon is using overwhelms the formal or conceptual side of these things. Some of these photos are really striking from any way I look at them. Candy or Cherry, especially so.
Some of them, on the other hand, and especially given the titles we’ve got here, seem to make me question the photos relationship with and my own relationship with kitsch.
Melanie Schiff’s work does the same thing, but always from a more certain conceptual position. Blackmon’s relationship to the kitschy is a little harder to peg. Schiff seems like she’s slightly ironic in the making, unironic in the subject. Blackmon seems like she’s unironic in the making, slightly ironic in the subject.
i think that’s the enjoyable aspect about both schiff and blackmon – there’s a will toward the sentimental. i’ve liked blackmon for a few years because i appreciate how constructed the pictures are – like paintings, and like how so much of contemporary photography is. the technique doesn’t overwhelm me any more than the sense in which it’s part of the facture. gregory crewdson’s photos are far more constructed, arranged, and stage-set than blackmon’s are, and being aware of that doesn’t deflect me. while not as rich as crewdson’s (less interesting to explore visually or technically), blackmon’s works aren’t hard to look at for me. they don’t seem jackassy or easy, either.
I looked at Crewdson–I’ve seen artists who do similar things, where multiple exposures and light sources co-exist, though he’s spookier. What it makes me think of is upper-shelf video game graphics. Blackmon, too, to a lesser degree. I think that people increasingly will identify this kind of space, or ambience, as something familiar from simulated-reality entertainment (movies, games, etc).
I also initially interpreted as paintings, and felt momentary delight. Then realized they weren’t and got over that, and was really getting into how she constructs them pictorically (I’m liking/leaving that typo), when I realized they weren’t straight photos of an arrangement.
I’m almost certain I’m wrong, but most of the collaged-yet-still-acting-as-representational-space genre, be it actual cut and paste or painted, jumps the shark for me. The whole viewing experience loses tension and deflates. Not always, but most often.
Blackmon’s statement is all about the Jan Steen (though I actually think her better images have more Gerrit ter Borch in them). Who I wish she was more conscious of is Duccio. I think there is a similar will toward ‘collaged-yet-still-acting-as-representational-space’, treating the figures like paper dolls to screw around with. And Duccio is just friggin’ awesome, like eating Jan Steen for breakfast and sh*t. Know what I mean?
Those anti-war collages work. The use of collage in them seems so purposeful and necessary. It’s crucial to their tenor.
I think my “this is smart-assery” radar for art gets skewed, especially in winter. It never hurts to be generous, even in error. I gotta remember that. Or at the very least, allow some neutrality of reaction.
One other thing I gotta say before this post trickles off…with an artist like Blackmon, whose work straddles several lines, kitsch, classicism, domestic, allegorical, high tech, low tech, serious, sincere, funny, ironic, etc. I’m always glad when s/he occasionally oversteps and ends up a little too far across one of those lines.
With Blackmon, it’s the Geek Squad image that is unforgivably cheesy to me.
But it does give a sense of the search, of the struggle. It makes that generosity seem worth giving. Sometimes it totally pays off—John Currin’s Thanksgiving painting, for example, is actually the most worthwhile painting he’s ever made.
At the very least it makes clearer what works in the better works.