Friday, February 2, 2018

Jeff Mermelstein - the extraordinary out of the banal

Barbara Tannenbaum, Curator of Photography, at the Cleveland Museum of Art writes her take on "rule breakers" on the Don't Take Pictures web magazine. Tannenbaum zeros in on her pet hate - street photography. She says - I never want to see another street photograph. Especially one of New York. Yes, street photography captures an ever-changing spectacle, with new fashion trends and hairdos. But human behaviour and emotion, which are at the core of street images, remain stubbornly consistent. After decades of looking at people traversing the streets of New York in person and in photographs, what is there left to surprise me? 

I share Barbara Tannenbaum's dislike of street photography. It's not so much the name but the images that so many street photographers come up with. I've seen the same images time and time again, often silly stupid juxtapositions that are supposed to be funny or ironic. Whatever... these are what I call "one trick pony pictures" they mostly present nothing, say nothing and are like cotton candy at the County Fair one suck and it's gone. Further, so many "street photographers" still think it's 1972 and their photographs look like it too. Boring as fuck! 

When it comes to street photography Tennenbaum sites New Yorker Jeff Mermelstein as her "rule breaker". She says this -  there is plenty to surprise me when New York’s streets and their denizens are seen through the lens of Jeff Mermelstein. His images caught my eye, my heart, and my funnybone when I came across them on Instagram

Tennenbaum is right, Mermelstein does it his way, strange, bizarre and somewhat crazy. These are images of today, they reflect the ease and superficiality of social media connection. The rush of the every day, time passing in an instant. Click and like. Many of his instagram pictures are tight shots of iphone screens...private messages are revealed and we wonder at it all. Jeff Mermelstein is one of my favourite photographers, his pictures are a litmus test of today... Jeff's pictures do for the street what Bill Cunninghams's pictures did for fashion. 

You can read Barbara Tannenbaum's complete piece on Don't Take Pictures HERE. And this YouTube clip is well worth a look - Jeff Mermelstein tells it like it is HERE

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