Week 5. Another girl another planet. 22.02.20
Whilst researching various different avenues I came across the exhibition ‘Another girl, Another planet’ , an exhibition organised by Gregory Crewdson and Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn, that bought together 11 female photographers, and one male photographer , all of whom were creating work that focused on the blurred boundaries of documentary and fantasy photography of females.
The blurb for the exhibition catalogue being sold on Amazon as a collectors item for an eye watering 400$ says “ The show created a lot of buzz at the time and has become a touchstone in the history of photography as so many of the then relatively-unknown female artists went on to create important work. The show also presented what became a new trend of “young female photographers whose staged pictures of adolescent girls emphasised crises of identity.” (Amazon) . The exhibition was held at Lawrence Rubin Greenberg Van Doren Fine Art, in New York from March 23 – April 17, 1999 , and the plethora of information about it online seems never ending, yet I haven’t actually managed to find any images from it yet.
There was , it seems , a huge amount of press around the exhibition, not least because “Complainers smelled a fix, masterminded by cocurator Gregory Crewdson, who taught six of the artists at Yale. “ (Seigel. Questia. 1999)
Another piece of information from the Questia website above which shares the article by Katy Seigel from vol 38 of artforum internation, helps contextualise and place these mythical images more for me “ What do these images have in common? Aside from a marked set of influences – indeed, the show may signal the emergence of the first generation of artists to take for granted the twin (if antithetical) lessons of Cindy Sherman and Nan Goldin – the emphasis here is on narrative. Many of the loose stories stretch across a series, such as those depicting runaway girls (Jenny Gage’s real-life drifters and Kurland’s utopian vision of a girls-only society).” (Seigel. Questia, 1999)
The press release that I found through the Van oren Waxter website here says…
“Using fictive strategies and a documentary style, these artists have produced a pictorial effect that hovers between photographic realism and unreality. Although on the surface this collision of styles and intentions appear contradictory, it in fact works to produce a photographic language that is both oddly familiar and strangely beautiful. ” (Pdf. waxter. 1999)
and it is this section below that makes me especially interested in seeing the works. This “playing with the conventions of reportage” (pdf. waxter. 1999) and “collapsing the distinction between the factual and fictive” (pdf. waxter. 1999) is utilised somewhat in my own work and research project. albeit, not to the same lengths as some of the practitioners in the exhibition go to.
“Another Girl Another Planet features the photographs of twelve artists from around the world, all of whom employ a narrative documentary style, utilizing/playing the conventions of reportage, narrative documentary, story-telling, portraiture, forensic and snap-shot photography. Collapsing the distinction between the factual and fictive, these artists have projected their own histories through the lens and onto their subjects.” (pdf. Waxter. 1999)
I found this write up on the exhibition in the New York Times, by Ken Johnson “ Not insignificantly, all but one of the artists are women: maybe they are getting back in touch with the inner girls their ambitious adult selves left behind.” (NYT. 1999) , is it any wonder that off the back of this exhibition there came a shift in ‘female photography’ when reviews with things like this were said in the NYT . Now, I am not saying that there is none of this being discussed and experimented with in these images, but whilst reading the review it is like you can hear the man giggling and snorting to himself behind his desk, at the absurdity of it, and I am reminded of Jansens words in Girl on Girl some 18 years later ” We see photographs women take – even of other women – as narcissistic, shallow – easy. This confluence of meanings doesn’t benefit photographers or viewers. We often miss the nuances that reflect, in varying degrees, the photographer’s perspective of living in our times – that doesn’t only concern women.” (Jansen. 2017. pg 9. ) The idea , it seems, hadn’t crossed Johnsons mind, that to discuss the issues and emotions of these ‘girls’ was actually a serious artistic issue, well worth exploring in more depth for the things it could teach us, about ourselves, and each other.
He continues throughout with these selective words and phrases that make his meaning clear “The best of their pictures” (NYT. 1999) Pictures? Does he refer to the art of Ansel Adams or Cartier-Bresson as pictures? or “ ”Another Girl, Another Planet” (surely the season’s best exhibition title)” (NYT. 1999) lathered in sarcasm from the get go. He refers to the artists as ‘ambitious adults’ as though the word were a poisonous , toxic thing, I wonder if a mans ambition would of seemed so incomprehensible and vulgar to him? Of course, this is just my reading of the article, it is entirely possible, he didn’t mean any of these things he said, in the way I am interpreting them.
But it does beg the question how many serious art critics have written about Cartier-Bresson’s inner little boy ?
There was also a really good look back at the exhibition four years after it opened, by Merrily Kerr on the New York Art tours website. The article entitled ‘breaking up is hard to do’ can be found here discusses the lasting impression the exhibition made in the art world, and how the photographers featured in both struggled, and excelled in breaking away from the ‘girl photographer’ image that was bestowed upon them, and their continuing work years later.
I still have yet to find the images from this mythical exhibition , but I will update more when I do, fingers crossed it doesn’t disappoint as it has been built up into something miraculous now !
Jansen. Charlotte. 2017. Girl on girl. Art and photography in the age of the female gaze. London; Laurence King.
Amazon. Another girl, Another planet catalogue for sale. Available at https://www.amazon.com/Another-Girl-Planet-March-April/dp/B0031TU6DS (Accessed 23.02.20)
Johnson, Ken. 1999. Art in review , Another Girl, Another planet. New York times. Available at https://www.nytimes.com/1999/04/16/arts/art-in-review-another-girl-another-planet.html (Accessed 23.02.20)
Kerr, Merrily. October 2003. new york art tours, ‘Breaking up is hard to do’ . Available at https://newyorkarttours.com/bio02_flash.htm (Accessed 23.02.20)
Seigel, Katy. Sept 1999. Another girl, Another planet. Questia. Available at https://www.questia.com/magazine/1G1-55939338/another-girl-another-planet (Accessed 23.02.20)
Van Doren Waxter. Exhibitions. Another girl another planet. Available at https://www.vandorenwaxter.com/exhibitions/another-girl-another-planet (Accessed 23.02.20)
Van Doren Waxter. Press release, another girl another planet available at https://www.vandorenwaxter.com/attachment/en/5667f01ccfaf34e03c8b4568/TextOneColumnWithFile/5667f01fcfaf34e03c8b47bb (Accessed 23.02.20)