Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Yes, Joerg Colberg, you are a snob.

I'm guessing (a snob's assumption or an understanding of my demographic?) that a good portion of my readers don't know who Joerg Colberg is. Why do I assume this? Because about 7,000 of my visitors in the last month have arrived at my site looking for tutorials about changing background color in Photoshop or getting a bleach bypass effect or other techniques that are (gasp! horror!) associated with the plebeian masses that do mommy blogs, wedding photos, and other things that snobs disdain. Colberg, meanwhile, has a strong following that relates primarily to art photobooks.

Exhibit A: "Presenting A Head With Wings by Anouk Kruithof":

18 seconds in: "...and you've probably all heard of Anouk's work." Sure. Anouk's that Inuit hunter in the 1922 silent film that...what? that's Nanook? Oh. Never mind. I'll just skulk back to my teeth whitening project now.

Exhibit B. quote from his "Are We Snobs?" post:
There are all kinds of ways to think about those books. My favourite approach is to treat them as the equivalent of gateway drugs. If someone is buying a book like Arthus-Bertrand’s Earth from Above isn’t it possible that that person then might be interested in other photobooks?
By those books Colberg means the likes of Anne Geddes or Artus-Bertrand (of Earth From Above)—the kind of books you find in your local Barnes & Noble. Gateway drugs? So Anne Geddes might be a gateway to Anouk Kruithof? I suppose it's possible. Shall we also say that JCPenney's is the gateway to becoming a hipster? Tintin comics a gateway to Proust? It could happen.

Exhibit C. (let me wax academic): "We".
The very question "Are We Snobs?" presupposes a hegemony that risks casting the "other" as a subaltern who at best might profit from a mission civilisatrice...Wait. Where was I? I got distracted by an infomercial about the amazing Robostir. It does the stirring for you!

Oh yeah. Joerg Colberg as snob...
Actually, he's one of my favorite people to read. He is earnest in the very best sense of the word. I love his presentations of photobooks because they allow me to see works I would never otherwise see. I'm amazed at all of the thoughtful posts he manages to put out there. Google the word "conscientious." Colberg comes up as the third hit after Wikipedia's definition of conscientiousness and the dictionary's definition of conscientious. That's pretty much like having Colberg's picture in the dictionary:

[kon-shee-en-shuhs, kon-see-]
1. controlled by or done according to conscience;  scrupulous: a conscientious judge.
2. meticulous; careful; painstaking; particular: conscientious application to the work at hand.
See also Joerg Colberg 
Yes, it's the name of his website, but it also describes his work. Asking "Are We Snobs?" might be the gateway drug for the art community to have some conversations with people who aren't quite ready to spend $150 on this year's most buzzed about photobook: Redheaded Peckerwood. Incidentally, Colin Pantall's post "Introspective, navel-gazing nitpickers" (nudie pics at the head of that link—don't say I didn't warn you) in which Pantall admits that this year's "it" book left him cold, seems to have struck a nerve with some people. It stirred the pot, so to speak. It didn't robo-stir it, but we can always dream. The art world could use a bit of robostirring.


timtop said...

coincidentally, after reading the Conscientious 'snob' post this morning, I decided to unsubscribe to that particular rss feed (among others).

Michelle said...

Can I say that I am most impressed that you were able to write a thought-provoking piece that features the robo-stir? I'm getting you one.

marc said...

Well, the robostir is very inspiring. I'm thinking a book called "Redheaded Robostir" or maybe "A Robostir With Wings" might be just the thing to top the best-of lists next year.