Willing suspension of disbelief

Ben Davis’s rejoinder to Devon Rodriguez.

… we should think of his social media posts as part of his practice, to be reviewed in and of themselves. These are, after all, not just how he got famous; in some sense they are what he is really famous for. And they are in many cases clearly staged….

Artists’ personal stories have long been part of how art is marketed, from Vincent van Gogh to Frida Kahlo, but in those cases, the artists’ paintings attracted interest first, and the biography became part of its legend as its fame grew. Today, personal biography and narrative are more important than ever in the gallery—most art comes equipped with some kind of story. But social media gives an added twist: Hordes of people can feel as if they have a relationship with a painter like Devon Rodriguez without ever having had any direct experience of his painting at all.

(via Kottke.org)

IMO, for empathetic, unguarded, photo-realistic images of passengers on the subway, look to Walker Evans’s photographs.


I love everything about this image from Shorpy (save one): the motion blur of the waitresses and ceiling fan, obscure prepackaged food, checkerboarded mini tile floor, shiny Coca-Cola fountain—and above all, the patrons ranked behind the diners, waiting their turn. The blot: as commenters have noted, this image is from 1942, when Washington was segregated. The photo is by Marjory Collins for the Farm Security Administration.