‘In the American West’ – Reflective commentary
The main points of the article by Bolton focuses on a few areas that for me have been in a sense disconcerting to learn but at the same time revealing. The promotion of Avedon’s work I feel takes advantage of the subjects on the basis that honesty as to the purpose of the project was not fully disclosed beforehand to the people in the photos. The corporate interest and investment in his work, and Bolton’s informative review of the ‘closing gap’ between arts and entertainment/advertising has left me questioning to some extent the motives of the art world and especially the area of photography which I participate in.
There are several questions that have arisen for me reading this article.
- As art is increasingly seen as an element of the post-industrial advertising world, what value does art hold as a critical faculty for society?
- Can Avedon’s work be seen as documentary? In what sense is it documenting?
I feel that generally the outcome of Avedon’s work cannot really be seen as documentary in either of the senses that Stott refers to (1973). That is to say, neither is there sufficient information for it to be a human document or sufficient context for it to be a historical or factual representation of the events of Western America.
Stott, W. Documentary Expression in Thirties America (1973) Oxford University Press.