Where are we in the Critical Mass 2011 process? Most pre-screeners are close to finishing up their jurying, and Photolucida will announce the finalist list the week of August 22nd. Everyone who entered will receive a CD with all the 2011 submissions inclusive in September.
Finishing up my own pre-screening, I thought it might be interesting to translate some notes jotted down into a general look at the content trends (‘trend’ in this case meaning ‘direction’ and not ‘fad’) of this year’s Critical Mass – what ideas/content are emerging photographers spending their time, talent, and emotional energy on?
The notes below are a neutral look at some general trends. No category or example is meant to have more weight or importance over another.
Image prices varied greatly - from $15 to $9,000.
Imagery mediums ranged from iPhone jpgs, expired Polaroid film, ambrotypes w/black fabric, large format w/150 year old French Petzval lenses, encaustic work, photographs frozen under ice, mordancage.
A loose attempt to categorize some of the submissions:
Literal imagery (trees, landscapes) to conceptual (the photographic interpretation of the word ‘sic’), to three dimensional (photos on saws).
Multiple entries of night photography, blurred photography.
Natural disasters: floating oil spills, tsunami damage, wildfires.
Self: self-portraiture over time (polaroids, passports), middle-class identity, adoption, self portraiture taking cues based on Victorian spirit photography, examination of self as man in pink tutu, childhood memories.
Cultural sub-groups: Neo-nazis, Klanspeople, Freemasons, marijuana farmers, rubbish dump pickers, Hasidism/Greek Orthodox Christians, women healers, opera characters, South African gangs, people with chickens, roller derby people, hunters, scavenger hunters, cage fighters, Japanese apple farmers, Jewish culture in Morocco, Burmese refugees, ice fishers.
People with disabilities: formal portraits of, blind people choosing to be parents, prom at a school for the blind.
Sex: drag queens, sex parties/clubs, S&M, porn industry, prostitution.
Nudes and naked people: abstract and non-abstract.
Family: parents aging/dying, children in modes of play/evolution, motherhood and fatherhood issues, working through suicide of a spouse, siblings in institutions, mother/daughter relationships, family members with cancer, same-sex parents, mental illness.
Abstracts: nature, peeling paint, graffiti, the body, food molecules, stained glass.
Chernobyl (the aftermath of, the tourism destination spot of).
Animals: disabled pets, aging animals, kennel club dog shows, the equine, the family of simianus, bats & fireflies.
Places you may or may not be familiar with: estate sales, garden shows, yard alters, zoo exhibits, examining rooms, funeral homes, public restrooms in department stores, NYC lobbies, spots where overdoses occurred, soccer fields in rural South Africa, African clinics, abandoned lace factories, voting booths.
American landscape: Yellowstone, Las Vegas, Appalachia, a ‘piano farm’ in North Carolina, Blackfoot Indian reservation, the Snake River plain, the Catskills, road trips, small towns, large cities, amusement parks, sustainable farms, the psychology of “the West”,
Public Spaces: Urban sprawl, man-made environments, tourism, theme parks.
Incorporating one’s own face into existing art/photographs.
Artful documentation of physical aspects of photography: developer trays, viewfinders.
Economic Recession: undeveloped real estate sites, abandoned houses, middle-class struggle, farmer suicides, deserted auto dealerships.
Military – training grounds, children playing war games, realities of Iraq & Afghanistan, the JROTC, Sandinista & Contra veterans.
Hard to categorize: jello cityscapes, explosions, how the inner psyche reflects the culture at large, journal of dream recordings, liminal spaces, people with freckles, protected memory, psychological landscape, interpretation of Grimm's Fairy Tales.
It has been amazing to see so many varied projects cross my computer screen - so many worlds to absorb and think about - thank you!