© Melinda Gibson, from the project Photography as contemporary art, 2011

© Melinda Gibson, from the project Photography as contemporary art, 2011

If Melinda Gibson’s photomontages look familiar, don’t be surprised. A flash of Ed Burtynsky here, a slice of Juergen Teller there, they are all made up of elements of some of the major works of the 1990s and 2000s, culled from the pages of The Photograph As Contemporary Art. Written and edited by Charlotte Cotton (former curator at the V&A and LACMA, and now creative director of the UK’s National Media Museum), it is one of the key texts for students starting out in photographic education. Which is precisely why the 26-year-old, who graduated from London College of Communication in 2006 and is now a visiting lecturer herself, chose to use it.

“I wanted to produce a body of work that was original – unique pieces unable to be reproduced – which in turn commented on the availability of photography in our heightened digitalised age. I also wanted to provoke questions about copyright and ownership through the re-appropriation of imagery. What is important to me is questioning the medium and the conventions that surround it, examining these and suggesting other ways to view them.”
Using just a scalpel, an adhesive and “a lot of patience”, she took the book apart (…)

But, as she has already hinted, there’s another, more critical purpose to the work, in particular the way such books serve to canonise particular photographers and images. “What I find frustrating is that the same images appear and re-appear every year at [educational] institutions. As you wonder through the different degree shows, you feel as though you have seen it all before – just modern takes on Martin Parr, Stephen Shore or Nan Goldin. What crossed my mind was whether these institutions are to blame for this, or whether it is truly impossible to produce something new. In my view, the canonisation of such sources acts as a hindrance to creativity, where people feel they have to produce something similar to be accepted or understood.”

in British Journal of Photography. Continue reading

Melinda’s blog here

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