Joel Rotenberg

    Joel Rotenberg

    I’ve been working with found photography since the early 1980s. Although the kind of thing I choose hasn’t changed radically in all that time, I have new thoughts about what to do with it once I’ve chosen it.

    Within the larger realm of found photography, I’m most interested in snapshots: photos taken with snapshot cameras, originally for non-art purposes. In the past I’ve often proceeded on the assumption that I can use snapshots to be directly expressive (in a broad sense). But in this project I’m not primarily concerned with exercising my “eye,” my taste in snapshots. I’m not going to display my favorites or sort them into subject categories. Rather, I want to imagine some different ways in which my photos could be presented.

    My first purpose in doing this is to demonstrate that, even if I feel my choices are already invested with meaning, I can still construct contexts for them in order to force that meaning into the open and put it to work. My second is to make it obvious that snapshots are complex enough to be harnessed in some very different ways.

    Even a single example can look in many directions at once. To bring that point home, I’ve made some photos do double duty: my twelve sketches for meaning-bearing contexts are set up in such a way that the photo at the end of one sequence will begin the next.

    Since every found photo is a repurposing, there is a kind of tension between what snapshots do for us, the finders, and how they originally worked as photographs. Some of my proposals here are “irresponsible”: they don’t always have much to do with the world of the snapshooters. But the way snapshots lend themselves to being reinterpreted so completely is itself entirely snapshotty.

    Today: Call and response.

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