Wednesday, 10 December 2008
Annie Liebovitz: too much
Not really expecting to like it and certainly not to warm to it. Mega glossy celebrity stuff, bah! However stunningly talented, bah! No postcards here. No photos on the exhibition leaflet, not even tiny ones, not even written-across. Bah! There was nonetheless the thought that an opportunity to see a whole lot of the work of a great photographer should not be passed up.
Well, it wasn't quite like that. Not so easy. The huge, flashy, overwhelmingly perfect works are interspersed with photos of her family and friends: small, powerful pictures of love and death. Holding, responding to the two modes simultaneously was a complex and troubling experience. The two poles, perhaps, of what photography can be, or convince you that it is: personal and mechanical, distilled reality and pure artifice. They can cancel each other out, but here were both so blatantly present that they didn't, just existed in powerful contradiction.
I was both compelled and repelled, both pleasured and sickened, and on the whole came away feeling less negative about the photographer, more interested, and pretty impressed really by what could inspire such a strong and complicated response.