1. How to Destroy a Photograph

Almost 40 years ago, a man entered St. Peter’s in the Vatican with a hammer. He lunged at Michelangelo’s Pietà several times, knocking chunks of marble off Mary’s face, including her nose. A few weeks ago a group of men entered a museum in France, with hammers they attacked the controversial photograph by Andres Serrano called “Piss Christ,” smashing the glass and leaving a gash where the face of Christ had been.

One interesting aspect of the attack on the Serrano’s banal photograph is that journalists covering the story regularly used the word “destroyed.” 

For auctions, the wound this photograph suffered would probably prevent it from being sold. But for this particular photograph, the wound probably has greatly increased it’s value. Photographs are delicate - they are works on paper. Read this discussion of the rock photographer Jim Marhsall’s prints, and how much a crease or indent mark will reduce the value of a photograph, or even make it worthless.

A photographic print is incredibly delicate in one sense, but then you see this image of the aftermath and 90% of the Serrano’s photograph is unharmed. Ironically, the “Christ” has been defiled, leaving the “Piss” alone.

Certainly it’s a frustrating time to be a Christian extremist. These men must regularly consider that 700 years ago their predecessors were able to lay waste to vast sections of the European continent, burning entire cities of non-believers. Today, they are not even able to fully “destroy” a single piece of paper. 

 Besides swinging a hammer wildly, how do you destroy a photograph? This is where paragraphs can be spent discussing negatives, edition sizes, what is the real work of art, and whether a low resolution reproduction on the internet counts as a photograph. Do the true believers spend millions over decades to buy every extant print, perhaps wait for the artist to die and buy his estate for the negatives? The problem with this approach is that the more the profane is fetishized and rareified, the more it seems sacred.
 
Perhaps the only way to silence a photograph over the next 100 years is to be silent about it.

    How to Destroy a Photograph

    Almost 40 years ago, a man entered St. Peter’s in the Vatican with a hammer. He lunged at Michelangelo’s Pietà several times, knocking chunks of marble off Mary’s face, including her nose. A few weeks ago a group of men entered a museum in France, with hammers they attacked the controversial photograph by Andres Serrano called “Piss Christ,” smashing the glass and leaving a gash where the face of Christ had been.

    One interesting aspect of the attack on the Serrano’s banal photograph is that journalists covering the story regularly used the word “destroyed.”

    For auctions, the wound this photograph suffered would probably prevent it from being sold. But for this particular photograph, the wound probably has greatly increased it’s value. Photographs are delicate - they are works on paper. Read this discussion of the rock photographer Jim Marhsall’s prints, and how much a crease or indent mark will reduce the value of a photograph, or even make it worthless.

    A photographic print is incredibly delicate in one sense, but then you see this image of the aftermath and 90% of the Serrano’s photograph is unharmed. Ironically, the “Christ” has been defiled, leaving the “Piss” alone.

    Certainly it’s a frustrating time to be a Christian extremist. These men must regularly consider that 700 years ago their predecessors were able to lay waste to vast sections of the European continent, burning entire cities of non-believers. Today, they are not even able to fully “destroy” a single piece of paper.

    Besides swinging a hammer wildly, how do you destroy a photograph? This is where paragraphs can be spent discussing negatives, edition sizes, what is the real work of art, and whether a low resolution reproduction on the internet counts as a photograph. Do the true believers spend millions over decades to buy every extant print, perhaps wait for the artist to die and buy his estate for the negatives? The problem with this approach is that the more the profane is fetishized and rareified, the more it seems sacred.

    Perhaps the only way to silence a photograph over the next 100 years is to be silent about it.

    18 May 2011

    notes: 132 | tagged: notes art |

     
    1. frank2910 reblogged this from reallycoolconceptualart
    2. margotmoreau reblogged this from andibgoode
    3. andibgoode reblogged this from garconniere and added:
      Meant to post this ages ago. Anyway, it does rais a lot of interesting ideas, thoughts, etc. Seems somehow to connect...
    4. draesphotography reblogged this from garconniere and added:
      This nearly broke my heart to see!! I have a respect & appreciation for Andres Serrano & his controversial work. I’ll...
    5. pinnaclehollow reblogged this from garconniere
    6. awkward-poo reblogged this from garconniere
    7. luxinland reblogged this from garconniere
    8. hhuzun reblogged this from garconniere
    9. honeyhead reblogged this from garconniere and added:
      How to Destroy a Photograph
    10. coolshitblog reblogged this from bremser and added:
      HOW TO DESTROY A PHOTOGRAPH Think about it. Actually, read Bremser’s piece on it. He does a way better job at it.
    11. femmesaxifrage reblogged this from garconniere and added:
      i love everything about this, but y u callin’ serrano banal? “The problem with this approach is that the more the...
    12. toolers reblogged this from garconniere
    13. snackalupagus reblogged this from garconniere
    14. garconniere reblogged this from ladyfresh and added:
      wow. wow.
    15. dalitz reblogged this from jamieho
    16. jamieho reblogged this from bremser
    17. 3dprintmeafucktogive said: The point of the photo is to piss (ha) people off. The real art has been the public outcry. Now, all that negative energy is finally shown in the piece itself. They improved the photo.
    18. teriyakinight reblogged this from lecollecteur