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History of Photo Essay #2 (Essay Sample)

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Art : Interview September 21, 2009
Walead Beshty & Eileen Quinlan
Quinlan’s photographs picture—literally—smoke and mirrors; Beshty makes photos without a camera. They meet on a New York Chinatown rooftop to discuss their work.
Left: Walead Beshty, Six Color Curl (CMMYYCC: Irvine, California, July 17th 2008, Fuji Crystal Archive Type C), 2009, Color Photographic Paper, 50 × 94 inches. Right: Eileen Quinlan, Satin Star, 2007, Unique color polaroid, Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Buchholz.
Both Walead Beshty and Eileen Quinlan make photographs that look out of time, out of place. If there’s an initial inclination to label their photographs “abstract” based on their look, they agree in the conversation below that the designation is problematically founded on a modernist painting paradigm and, especially in the case of Beshty’s photograms, is simply inaccurate. Better to say that each artist is involved in the material concerns of photographic practice. Quinlan creates images of dimensional confusion by photographing modest studio constructions of foam, mirrors, and other common materials, and she exposes the construct of the artificial scarcity of the edition by often displaying an entire edition side by side and treating it as a singular piece. Whereas Quinlan doesn’t manipulate her photos in the darkroom, Beshty’s darkroom practice for his photograms is dependent on chance operation; to make them, he exposes multicolored paper to light according to a predetermined and self-imposed set of rules. The Los Angeles-based Beshty and the Brooklyn-based Quinlan both taught briefly at Bard this summer, and they met to record this conversation on a rooftop in New York’s Chinatown.
Walead Beshty Maybe it’s good to start with basic questions about your process, specifically your choice to avoid making decisions in the darkroom.

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History of Photo 11
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Walead Beshty & Eileen Quinlan argue their cases on why their art photography goes against the conventions as they focus on the need for photographers to have more freedom rather than being bound by rules. Given that photographs in magazines and the print media are in the edition format, and the images then become like objects that can be held (Beshty, 2009). Quinlan (2009) further states that photographic images integrate some form of abstraction, although this has not been acknowledged by most artists and photographers. The conversation also captures the divergent opinions on the place of abstraction in photography.
For art photography to be more meaningful, then the depicted objects ought to be viewed as being inseparable from their surroundings. Art photography is broad, and abstraction is but one of the concepts that influences photographers. H...
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