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Photogs / Photo Exhibits This is the place to discuss a particular Photographer (work, style, life, whatever), as well as to post Gallery and Museum Photo Exhibitions and your own impressions of them. As we march on in this new digital world, it is often too easy to forget about the visual importance of the photographic print, as well as their financial importance to the photographer. It is also interesting to remember that some guy named Gene Smith shot with lenses that many lens test reading "never had a picture published in their life" amateurs would turn up their their noses at, as being "unacceptable."

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Tichy at the ICP
Old 04-18-2010   #1
KenR
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Tichy at the ICP

RFF has had threads about people (men) who photograph young women without their knowledge. This was the theme of the ICP show currently on display. Tichy was a Czech photographer who used a variety of homemade cameras to photograph the young women of his hometown. Some of the women (girls, really) seemed to notice him and "posed" for the pictures. Others seem to have been taken without the subjects knowledge, and others seem to be of posed nude models.

Was he protesting the autocratic regime with his "art" as the ICP suggests? Was he just an old eccentric tolerated by the locals who has been "discovered" and in retrospect is making a political statement? Was he a crazy pervert who at a different time would be locked up? This was not at all explored at the show - not politically correct?
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Old 04-18-2010   #2
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You should really ID (to use your type of abbreviations) the International Center of Photography, ie ICP. This guy really, more than any other photographer, 'blurs' the difference between photography as a recorder of man's life (or if you are thinking landscape you will love this fellow) and the traditional media artists than anyone I can think of. He makes his cameras, he makes his enlarger, he captures life, but he also interprets it. The medium artist goes to Venice with store bought paints, a store bought canvas and outlines his image with a pencil. Then he goes home and has his minions fill-in the tasty bits. No, he is an artist maybe more than any other in our genre

Answer to 1:

He didn't think about this.

Answer to 2:

He wasn't making a political statement, just liked what he was doing. And he wasn't that old when he was making these images.

Answer to 3:

No, nobody was locked up for this, that is a late/early 20th-21st century thinking.

Answer to 4:

Politically correct is not in fashion anymore. So for me it is a moot point, as it has always been.

This guy was/is good, sit back, and enjoy his genius.

Last edited by charjohncarter : 04-18-2010 at 18:53.
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Old 04-19-2010   #3
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Yes, but.... It was the curator of the show who insisted in several palces that this was a political statement, I think to blunt any criticism of the show as "creepy" or "perverted" (to use the terms employed in another RFF thread.) My own sense of the guy is that he was (is?) a paranoid sociopath who would have withdrawn from society and done his own thing even if Mother Teresa was running the most benign government.

The photos were kind of fun, if looked at from the point of view of the eccentric uncle who is taking pictures of ladies legs and rears, not harming anyone. But I still wonder....
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Old 04-19-2010   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by charjohncarter View Post
You should really ID (to use your type of abbreviations) the International Center of Photography, ie ICP. This guy really, more than any other photographer, 'blurs' the difference between photography as a recorder of man's life (or if you are thinking landscape you will love this fellow) and the traditional media artists than anyone I can think of. He makes his cameras, he makes his enlarger, he captures life, but he also interprets it. The medium artist goes to Venice with store bought paints, a store bought canvas and outlines his image with a pencil. Then he goes home and has his minions fill-in the tasty bits. No, he is an artist maybe more than any other in our genre
So he's more of an artist because he produces his own tools? That's silly. He's just a craftsmen in addition to being an artist. Just as a cook who grows his own vegetables isn't more of a cook because of it. He's just a cook who happens to like gardening.
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Old 04-19-2010   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamie123 View Post
So he's more of an artist because he produces his own tools? That's silly. He's just a craftsmen in addition to being an artist. Just as a cook who grows his own vegetables isn't more of a cook because of it. He's just a cook who happens to like gardening.
Correct, but the complaint from many is that photography is not art its just a recording mechanism (I don't ascribe to this), for some reason these critics say it is gear and anyone can make a photo. This guy goes well beyond that, and I might add I think apolitically.

Edit: Also, yes he is not more of an artist because he makes his own tools, he is a sui generis artist because he makes his own tools. I don't think he could do his work with a Canon 5D.

Last edited by charjohncarter : 04-19-2010 at 08:44.
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Old 04-19-2010   #6
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I saw the Tichy show for a second time. I think of Tichy as just being an outsider, and I identify strongly with that aspect of his work. This is clear to me.

I think the curator places a frame on his work, but I am like you, am uncertain if it is correct.

It is a blurry line because of all the associations of deviance, that to me, seems to be both provoked and projected.

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Old 04-19-2010   #7
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I've read an introduction to his book written by his neighbour - a friend of him.

His lifestyle was a political statement after communists closed painting atelier he had been working at and tried to force him to paint what they liked to see. As for the awarness of his subjects, he was quite known person in the small city (as a social outsider and lunatic), but only few believed he had been actually taking photographs.

... and as far as records of the city went, he never touched a woman.
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Last edited by palec : 04-19-2010 at 10:35.
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Old 04-19-2010   #8
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Originally Posted by palec View Post
I've read a introduction to his book written by his neighbour - a friend of him.
Thanks for adding clarity. The curator of the show did not attribute any of the information displayed at the show like you just did. At the exhibit these referances and attribution I feel would of enriched the meaning of the cuator's text that accompanied the photos and artifacts.

Although the curator I'm sure is a respected scholar, it is the other additional voices that provide added or more certain validity to a viewer of the show.

Cal
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Old 04-19-2010   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KenR View Post
Yes, but.... It was the curator of the show who insisted in several palces that this was a political statement, I think to blunt any criticism of the show as "creepy" or "perverted" (to use the terms employed in another RFF thread.) My own sense of the guy is that he was (is?) a paranoid sociopath who would have withdrawn from society and done his own thing even if Mother Teresa was running the most benign government.

The photos were kind of fun, if looked at from the point of view of the eccentric uncle who is taking pictures of ladies legs and rears, not harming anyone. But I still wonder....
She was possibly even weirder.

It all depends on what you WANT to believe.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 04-19-2010   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Calzone View Post
I saw the Tichy show for a second time. I think of Tichy as just being an outsider, and I identify strongly with that aspect of his work. This is clear to me.
This is sort of how I thought about this show...I don't generally read wall text, informative though it may be, and like to just extrapolate the artist's intent from the work...or to not really think about intent at all.

I liked the pictures, but the thing that really excited me about this exhibition were the way he mounted them (on random scraps of paper, with drawn frames, etc) and the big glass cases of his equipment, which was incredibly filthy and in majestic disrepair. Somehow I got more inspired by the cardboard cameras than anything else--it was kind of a reminder of how limited my methods really are...how unnecessarily clean my process is.

RFF'ers will be glad to know there was a grime-encrusted Kiev in there, with I believe a J8 mounted.
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Old 04-19-2010   #11
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I agree that the handdrawn frames as well as the outlining of lines and forms with pencil or pen were more interesting than many of the images. Certainly the cameras were the best part of the show - and most of us are impressed with the images we can get from an old folder - high end stuff compared with the cardboard "junk" that Tichy used.
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Old 04-20-2010   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by charjohncarter View Post
Correct, but the complaint from many is that photography is not art its just a recording mechanism (I don't ascribe to this), for some reason these critics say it is gear and anyone can make a photo. This guy goes well beyond that, and I might add I think apolitically.
I don't see how that changes anything. It's still a recording mechanism even if he builds it himself. Lots of people make their own pinhole cameras. So what? Besides, I don't see many artists coming out of Canon's engineering department.

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Edit: Also, yes he is not more of an artist because he makes his own tools, he is a sui generis artist because he makes his own tools. I don't think he could do his work with a Canon 5D.
And Gursky couldn't do his work with a DIY camera. And *insert your favourite Renaissance painter* couldn't do his work with finger paint. What's the point? Different artists need tools of varying sophistication to realize their vision. Doesn't really matter.
One would even be tempted to argue that he's less of an artists because his work mainly relies on the technical aspects of his tools (i.e. anyone can make a Tichy photo with a homemade camera). Personally, I wouldn't agree with this but it's just as valuable an argument.
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Old 04-20-2010   #13
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Guy got two years jail a couple of weeks ago for producing much better stuff shooting up ladies skirts outside the ladies loo on one of our railway stations with his mobile phone camera.
Whatever turns you on I guess.
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Old 04-20-2010   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamie123 View Post
I don't see how that changes anything. It's still a recording mechanism even if he builds it himself. Lots of people make their own pinhole cameras. So what? Besides, I don't see many artists coming out of Canon's engineering department.



And Gursky couldn't do his work with a DIY camera. And *insert your favourite Renaissance painter* couldn't do his work with finger paint. What's the point? Different artists need tools of varying sophistication to realize their vision. Doesn't really matter.
One would even be tempted to argue that he's less of an artists because his work mainly relies on the technical aspects of his tools (i.e. anyone can make a Tichy photo with a homemade camera). Personally, I wouldn't agree with this but it's just as valuable an argument.
My point is he is a 'one off' which, in my opinion, Gursky is not.
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Old 04-20-2010   #15
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I saw the show on Friday and was completely unimpressed.

His motivations were not well explained in the panels. As mentioned earlier, the main push of the writing was towards the man as a counter-political activist (in a way). What I left with was simply the notion that he was more likely weird (not a bad thing) and probably had issues with women (not a good thing).

The story is far more interesting than the work on display and, perhaps, that story needed to come to the front more to make the exhibition successful.

I found that in no way were any of the photographs very interesting or deserving of prolonged study.

This is one of those cases where the story of the man and the "find" exert a strong influence on the interpretation and valuation of the work. The result is a hopelessly high evaluation.
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Old 04-20-2010   #16
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I saw the show Saturday and was blown away.

I thought the work itself was incredibly compelling and the back story almost equally so.

I didn't quite agree with the political aspect that they were pushing and found some of the commentary in both the written panels and the accompanying documentary film heavy handed (the Australian art dealer in the film was straight out of Spinal Tap "he is looking backwards which is the opposite of revolutionary but it is that which makes him revolutionary") but the whole thing was fascinating and gripping to me and worthy of prolonged study. Spent almost 2 hours going over the photos and watching the film.

The hand crafted, extremely personal aspect of the images and their presentation was such a strong statement compared to the "perfection" of much of the images we are constantly bombarded with. It was intensely interesting to me that the images were compelling in almost inverse proportion to how much detail they captured.

I can certainly see coming away with the opposite impression, that of a mildly disturbed, voyeuristic hack creating worthless garbage with crappy cameras but to me the images themselves were incredibly powerful.

Last edited by nightfly : 04-20-2010 at 12:26.
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Moondog
Old 04-20-2010   #17
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Moondog

It's funny, in talking to people about this show, which I didn't really like, I kept thinking about Moondog. He was a very odd character in NYC in the 1960's who dressed in viking clothing (including a horned helmet) - he would stand rock still and suddenly start singing or reciting poetry. As a kid, he used to scare the heck out of me the few times that I saw him. New Yorkers thought he was crazy. Somehow, he ended up in a Sandinavian country, where his poetry and music was regarded as wonderfully avant garde and where he was hailed as a genius. Similar enough to Tichy but with a reverse trip across the Atlantic.
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