|Without Szarkowski, would Eggleston be known as a drunken footnote?|
There was a veritable shit load, excuse me, plethora of "Best Of" book lists end of last year. And the one obvious factor amongst them all was how freaking diverse the selections were- and that was in no small part due to the fact that there are so many small, independently made and distributed photo books out there. And no one could possibly argue that that's not a good thing...
Unless, of course, the one wee problem is that not everyone has access to all these independent, international, limited edition books. We can perhaps see selections of said work online, but we all know that ain't nowhere near the same. And the vast majority of us certainly can't peruse 'em at the local, neighborhood bookstore. The question then becomes- are indies fine tuning fine art photography into haute cuisine for those with access? And what happens should that certain someone come along and publish the modern day equivalent of a William Eggleston's Guide as a limited edition indie, either because of financing or greater creative control? Is it then destined to become, and remain, a cult classic- or will word of mouth with the aid of the internets assure its revolutionary and meteoric rise to equivalent sea change status?
Perhaps this bottom up approach will actually help further democratize the medium, as well monied, art market institutions no longer field the voice of authority that dominate and propel. Or perhaps this will not follow a contemporary political profile, and instead serve to further isolate audiences, and artists alike. In an age with leaderless movements, will we still need the visionary, well heeled, uber connected art czar to announce the dawn of a new day?