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DPChallenge Forums >> Photography Discussion >> Documentary art.
Showing posts 1 - 13 of 13, (reverse)
07/05/2017 06:34:33 AM · #1
Some people say photography is a documentary medium. Some people say it's art.

Paolo Pellegrin says it's both, and it's hard to argue when you look at his stuff. I went to a Pellegrin exhibition once; it was a game-changer for me. He's my favourite photographer of all time. What say you?
07/05/2017 10:00:16 AM · #2
I had never heard of him before. A remarkable body of work, plus thoughtful, incisive writing to underscore it. Thanks for sharing.
07/05/2017 10:58:22 AM · #3
Powerful and moving stuff. I would like to be able to stand in front of it on exhibit some time. Thanks, Paul.
07/05/2017 12:01:30 PM · #4
As someone who fails to see clearly defined categories, I like to check their history first. "Documentary" comes from the Latin for "show" but also "teach." "Art" comes from "skill."

So documentary art teaches us with skill. To say there can be no art in the documentary is to say that you can use no skill in capturing what you see, because that would prevent it from being objective. Ideally, you would set up your wide angle camera against a wall and just let it take pictures all day, then we would look at every single picture. Of course, that would be so weird and disconcerting that it would be considered postmodern art at its most bizarre.

His photos remind me of writing a poem about an event instead of a news article. To say it's not valid is to say that Tennyson's Charge of the Light Brigade is not valid, or to say that Joni Mitchell's Woodstock is not valid. Neither one of them were even at the events they wrote about. A better example might be Dulce et Decorum Est, by Wilfred Owen. Read that poem and tell me that it's unnecessary.

So yes, photography is a documentary medium. Yes, photography is art. And this guy is one hell of a photographer.

07/05/2017 12:03:02 PM · #5
Dulce et Decorum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.—
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

07/05/2017 12:13:33 PM · #6
Don, brilliant poetry and I'm just learning the author died at the young age of 25.

Paul, I enjoy his work very much and appreciate how he uses the edges. What he leaves out of the image, what is outside the frame, pulls me in.

“I’m more interested in a photography that is “unfinished”—a photography that is suggestive and can trigger a conversation or dialogue. There are pictures that are closed, finished, to which there is no way in.”

This quote by Paolo Pellegrin sums up the most important element of a photograph. What, where, when, and how are all secondary.

Message edited by author 2017-07-05 18:54:56.
07/05/2017 02:13:49 PM · #7
His work is wonderful Paul. I have seen bits and pieces of it on Magnum from time to time but I imagine an exhibition of a block of his work would be very powerful.Thanks for posting it.

When I first moved to Philadelphia from NYC in the mid 90's, Eric Menscher was the photojournalist for the (then) reputable local newspaper. He soon retired and
moved to Guatemala where he continued to shoot using an old iPhone. I have followed him since and am blown away by his work. I am not sure what his exposure is
or how well know he is, but if you haven't seen him http://www.ericmencher.com

ps. "Dulce et Decorum Est" is brilliant Don. Thanks!
07/05/2017 04:57:38 PM · #8
It's worth following DPC if only for all this wonderful way of discovering (or rediscovering) masters of photography.
Thanks Paul for putting in the same sentence my name with:
Max Dupin
That's how I discovered:
Olive Cotton

and thanks Jane for:
Eric Mencher
and of course Henry for a slew of photographers and sites worth following.

I knew Pellegrino's work that I stumbled upon via Salgado and the social documentary and photojournalism - if we trey to separate categories.
07/05/2017 05:33:40 PM · #9
Don, thanks for sharing the poem. Took my right back to high school where we studied the war poets quite extensively. I've always loved that poem.

07/05/2017 06:57:17 PM · #10
Jane, thanks for sharing photographer Eric Menscher with us. I'd never heard of him. Brilliant stuff!

sense of humor too

Message edited by author 2017-07-05 19:02:53.
07/06/2017 11:38:46 AM · #11
Thanks for posting this.
07/06/2017 02:41:10 PM · #12
Thanks to Jane & Mariuca for the mentions of Eric Mencher, of whom I was ignorant.

Here's a very good interview with examples of his remarkable iPhone work.
07/06/2017 03:35:50 PM · #13
So glad that you guys like his stuff. While I love his style, it's his whimsey and linkage that does it for me.
Can you imagine his FS score at DPC? A lot of Posthumous bling and a lot of 3's!

Thanks Mariuca for posting the link (duh) and Paul for the interview.
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