February 04, 2012

In Moe's

In Moe's there's a new book of photos in the art section by Patti Smith ("Camera Solo"). After browsing it for a minute or so, I have the usual uneasy questions: what's in it that's worth the $25 price? Why this book? Why these images? What makes them more interesting than the other million or so similarly mannered images Out There in Flickrland or Tumblrland or Instagram or wherever? Why is this sort of thing important now rather than back in, say, the 1920's or 1950's when it was new? Would she have had a nice book printed rather than just a pleasant website or Flickr page produced for her if she weren't personally involved in the art scene it's so obviously an artifact of?

As with Tarkovsky's Polaroids, there doesn't seem to be anything that justifies the collection other than they're by someone famous in another field. They're by Patti Smith, for goodness sake! Which is fair enough in one sense: it's sort of interesting to see what she sees as interesting, it's interesting to see what her cultural ecosystem thinks is interesting, and the images themselves are quite nice in an unambitious sort of way.

All of which is a shame because I've always admired her ambitions and achievements, even if I haven't always liked them.

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