[25Jul22] Until this morning I intended to write about Pennie Smith's photograph of Paul Simonon on the cover on The Clash's London Calling, 1979. That changed on reading in Part 5 about Agnes Denes' Wheatfield - A Confrontation: The Battery Park landfill, Downtown Manhattan (1982)
Denes planted two acres of wheat in prime Manhattan real estate (worth, we are told, $4.5B, even in 1982), demonstrating "a powerful paradox. It referred to mismanagement, waste, world hunger and ecological concerns calling attention to our ‘ misplaced priorities" (LPE p.177). And, here's the point, it was "an early example of an artist where the photographic image was integral to the creative work" (ibid.). This point came up in the Asg.4 feedback where I referred to Andy Grundberg's How photography became contemporary art (2021).
The artist's own web site quotes, "the scholar and curator Jeffrey Weiss, [who] has called [Wheatfield] "perpetually astonishing . . . one of Land Art's great transgressive masterpieces" (Artforum, September 2008)" (Denes, 1982).
This is the most interesting piece I have encountered on the course and is worth the price of entry alone. The work was made 40 years ago and - here's the key - would not exist but for its reverberations in other forms - writing, still and film photographs, memories and, I'd guess, some people might still have wheat or flour or images of things they baked. (And if Manzoni had been in his canning phase at the time he could have made sandwiches and taken the work to another - not necessarily higher - level, fig. B5). Denes notes on her web site that,
seeds were carried away by people who planted them in many parts of the globe Agnes Denes, Wheatfield - A Confrontation: Battery Park Landfill, Downtown Manhattan, 1982
Denes relies on photographs on a web site as the main point of entry. And - here's the second key - this applies to everything else too. Lives, lost lives, events, lost buildings and everything else: they only exist in memories and in art, and memories die. And all art is not equivalent; photography is sometimes more equivalent than others.
Goya's The Third of May, 1808 (fig. B1) is a remarkable painting, but no-one supposes that it is an accurate representation of events: it is a (literal) celebration of the event. By contrast, Eddie Adams' photograph of an execution (fig. B2) is viscerally real and still chilling more than 50 years later. Most courtroom artists' sketches of the accused could almost be a joke if the subject were not more serious, but photographs of criminals and their crimes are real and evidential (figs. B3 and B4).
Denes' piece still resonates today, particularly with the twin towers in the distance, included then for a reason - geographical confirmation - and now that reason has changed. It was an important piece 40 years ago for the truths of revealed about social and financial priorities and that is still valid, but the work now reveals an (in some ways) more important truth: the enduring vitality of the photograph.
What is there now? See exercise 5.4.
[28Feb22] from the Blog, 27Feb, "If I buy a film camera it might be a Pentax SEII. Interesting Clash photo story that might be the next eval. Pentax ES II: The camera that captured rock’s most iconic photograph. And again."
Henry Moore border between human and abstract - parallel
[29Mar] PJ Proby, Townshend, cars in pools, dignified, orchestrated Neil Young
[16Apr] see TPG album covers show, Elvis and 30s blues.
LPE Part 5 Evaluation References
author, (year) Title. Location: Publisher.
Alexander, J, Conroy, A, Hughes, A, & Lundy, G (2019) Landscape, Place and Environment [LPE]. Barnsley: Open College of the Arts.
Denes, A. (1982) Wheatfield - A Confrontation: Battery Park Landfill, Downtown Manhattan [online]. agnesdenesstudio.com. Available from http://www.agnesdenesstudio.com/works7.html#:~:text=Agnes%20Denes&text=Two%20acres%20of%20wheat%20planted,facing%20the%20Statue%20of%20Liberty. [Accessed 25 Jul 2022].
Grundberg, A. (2021) How photography became contemporary art. New Haven, CN: Yale University Press.
Jacobs, K. (2018) The Woman Who Harvested a Wheat Field Off Wall Street [online]. nytimes.com. Available from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/14/t-magazine/agnes-denes-art.html [Accessed 26 July 2022].