Monday, March 9, 2009
In 1977 a book titled Evidence was published by Mike Mandel and Larry Sultan. They had searched through the photographic archives of industrial laboratories, police departments, government agencies and institutions, looking for photographs made as pure documentation - as evidence. When the selected images were taken out of context, exhibited and published as an art photography project, it had an important effect on the field of photography. It also had an important effect on me, because it confirmed that other people were finding meaning in odd, inexplicable found photographs. I bought a copy of the book and got a nice handwritten note of thanks from Mr. Mandel. (That first edition now sells in the $3000 range if you can find one.) Anyway, since then I've had the good fortune to find a few orphaned pictures that just beg for explanation, which ain't gonna happen, but somehow still yield something of the mysterious internal effect that art has. Sometimes they're beautiful; sometimes it's the deranged Dada-like weirdness, like this one, an 8 x 10 glossy photo of the underside of a standard institutional table. You tell me.