One fantastic advantage of keeping a blog which nobody reads, is that freedom of expression, is just another word for nothing left to fear. Having said that, this fantastic voyage would not feel complete if I did not stick one in the ribs and shoot me in both feet while I am at it ; especially so, since I am so blatantly expropriating the language, if not the groovy feelings of the sixties. A few months back I got to thinking that I could not, for the life of me, figure out why Alec Soth is such the darling of photography's establishment, so beloved by the photographically minded masses. Granted, the man is a perfectly competent, if not a capably bearded photographer; but beyond that I can't tell him apart from his large format documentary brethrens, which are, as we now know, all the rage.
Knowing full well that my present choice of words are remiss, I can't help but believe that if you were to blind test his pics for originality, to the uncognoscenti, they might have a hard time telling him apart from the rest of the large forma-tees. And then it hit me, "Americana", he's got that all American thing going, that home town, hand on heart quality. I get it, he documents, in a Fine and Arty way, the hearts and minds of the beast; like Geographic used to when they drank Martinis.
You can hang it in a gallery, without attracting the kind of shame and contempt otherwise reserved for idiot savants and country bumpkins. After-all, who wants to wax poetic about the place you have so desperately and recently escaped from last week, and expect a gallery to take you under its clean, white and downey wings. Like telling mommy she's the best thing that ever happened to me, but without being overheard, mocked and ridiculed by the literati, like getting in touch with your feelings for free, play little league, or vote libertarian when no one's looking.
I could not, for the life of me, write an entry about this intuitive and ever so fleeting feeling until good old Ken Burns, the Lawrence Welk of documentary film making, premiered "The War" nationally, all across the country. There you have it, the perfect twins.... I couldn't believe it, I finally had that critically acclaimed hook, so desperately needed, to knock those two birds with one teeny tiny stick.
Ken Burns is to Alec Soth what Alec Soth is to documentary. It's Americana, but very still. Pan right, pan left, pick a universality and stick to it, squeeze in in a few tears and some scratch and sniff, and there you have it, success; where there was none, now there is. A little heartstring made that fat lady sing. For my money, Alec Soth should have stuck to Bogota and the shadows, where his work might have actually blossomed quite nicely. Nice timing though, I must admit. All the power to both of them, they deserve it.