Performing for the Camera: Postmodernism, Antimodernism, and the Performative Photograph

Authored by: William J. Simmons

The Focal Press Companion to the Constructed Image in Contemporary Photography

Print publication date:  September  2018
Online publication date:  September  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138125025
eBook ISBN: 9781315647807
Adobe ISBN:


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It is the goal of this volume to reconsider the variety of photographic methodologies that have proliferated since 1990.What critics and historians often forget, however, is that central to any understanding of the most contemporary methods, even what has been deemed “post-internet” art, cannot be understood without first reinventing the wheel a little bit. The fact of the matter is that the wheel, even though it has remained conceptually the same in the history of photography since the late 1970s, is caught in a rut.“Postmodernism” is no longer a useful tool for the discussion of photography. Even though conceptual photographers – such as Laurie Simmons, Sarah Charlesworth, Cindy Sherman, Richard Prince, and Sherrie Levine – have been central to the creation of postmodernism as a term, there are discrepancies that need to be, at long last, entirely revised.There were and continue to be central flaws to the formulation of postmodernism’s relationship to poststructuralism and to the arts, which I will, by way of introduction, loosely center around three components: formalism, diversity, and historicism. Things have not changed much since the late 1970s, and the most contemporary mandate of art criticism right now is to refashion the art historical methodologies that have led us to a trite and repetitious 21st century photographic discourse.

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