On June 9, 10 and 11 20011 I attended LOOK3 in Charlottesville, VA.
So what is it?
In the words of the organizers, “ LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph is a celebration of photography, created by photographers, for those who share a passion for the still image. The Festival features exhibits and on-stage appearances of three “legacy” photographers, as well as many exhibitions, outdoor screenings, and projections over three days and nights”.
“Historic downtown Charlottesville is transformed into a living image with photographs hanging in the trees, projected in storefront windows and on the sides of buildings, as well as in all the galleries.
Billed as ‘3 days of peace, love and photography,’ the Festival is designed to bring together the international photography community and create opportunities for attendees and artists to share images, ideas and to be inspired.”
The Masters featured in 2011 were Ashley Gilbertson,Christopher Anderson, Martin Bell and Mary Ellen Mark LaToya Ruby Frazier and Steve McCurry
In addition, there were “INsight Conversations” with “legacy masters” Antonin Kratochvil, Massimo Vitali and Nan Goldin
So much for the setup, Bob. How were the photographers?
As in many events such as this participants have highs and lows depending on their bias and their expectations. I was no exception.
I felt that the “legacy masters” were on stage way too long (three times through their pictures during their presentations was a bit much). And in general, they WERE legacies hanging on to where they came from – film based, with styles that perhaps defined them during their careers, but seem dated today.
Most of the photographers presenting at the festival displayed a passion and dedication for their subject matter and it was very difficult to see their photographs without seeing the photographer.
Egos and “navel gazing” were another matter. Kratochvil and Golin were self-absorbed and were full of throwaway lines. I would suggest that they get to work – in a meaningful way.
The interviewers Scott Thode and Sally Mann did not help. They were too full of themselves to understand that the audience was there for the represented artist. However, Alex Chadwick and Tony Bannon were great, drawing out subtle threads that helped weave the featured photographer’s thoughts and experiences into a cohesive tapestry.
George Steinmentz’s The TREES exhibit — from George’s Wild Air photographs — taken from his motorized paraglider — suspended on banners high in the trees along Charlottesville’s outdoor pedestrian mall.
David Liittschwager’s One Cubic Foot
Steve McCurry’s Last Roll of Kodachrome
LaToya Ruby Frazier’s brutally honest autobiographical images and prose
One standout image in David Allan Harvey’s Carolina Outer Banks of a couple getting married with another older couple standing on the beach with them. This essay was in an otherwise mostly disappointing presentation of Shots and Works on Friday and Saturday nights.
Shots and Works were generally essays on a theme, but many times the pictures were outside the theme or outside the style of the piece. Some were simply bad. Because the presentations were held outside, Shots and Works started at 9:00 PM and made for a long day.
Galleries to visit were all over town. Not to be missed were the “Community Exhibits”, particularly Focus on Photography: Three Masters — William Albert Allard, William Christenberry, and Michael Nichols and Southern Views/Southern Photographers — Emmit Gowen, Sally Mann and Pamela Pecchio. Massimo Vitali’s Exhibit Natural Habitats was on display at Chroma Project Gallery (photo below).
A Bonus! Martin Bell and Mary Ellen Mark’s piece on The Prom. Funny and genuine, the film reflected the values of American teens.
See you there next year!