Different forms of art do not live independent lives. They are intertwined, sometimes in obvious, sometimes in strange ways. Artists might be inspired by the history of their own art form. They might also be inspired by whatever is happening elsewhere: A writer might see a photograph and take it as inspiration for a novel, a musician might read the novel and take it to create a piece, a ballet director might listen to the music and take it to write a new production. The chain goes on and on.
The photographers in this book all used the same short story by writer Thom Jones as their starting point, resulting in ten very different bodies of work. Wipeout, the story, turned into ten sets of photographs, collected here as Halfway Pretty. There was just one rule for how to go about making the pictures: Do not merely illustrate the story. Instead, use it as a spring board for your imagination, to see what you can find in the world that resonates, in whatever way, by whatever means.
Halfway Pretty reflects a fair part of the breadth of contemporary photography. Straight photography mingles with photography using archival materials. Straight photography is made to look as if it were archival (and vice versa) etc. These theoretical and craft-related issues aside, the bodies of work in this volume demonstrate what contemporary photography can do when it is done well: Not speak of that, which is contained in the pictures’ frames, but allude to all that it is not, but that is still present, in a seemingly strange way.
At the end, the viewer her/himself becomes part of the process these photographers went through. The photographs are there, to be looked at, the story is there, to be read – and everything comes together, in a completely unpredictable way, in the viewer’s mind.
Different forms of art live independent lives, but for that to be true they need to act upon someone willing to be the recipient. An open mind will find an endless number of new possibilities in these pages, to be imagined after reading the story and looking at the ten portfolios of photography.
- Jörg Colberg
Photographs by Amanda James, Alex Nichols, Andrew Fedynak, Chris Bennett, Gretchen Sayers, Jerome Ming, Lucy Helton, Pam Connolly, Saleem Ahmed, Tsar Fedorsky.