It’s Foto with an F!

Reinforcing the popular notion that the majority of photographers are functional illiterates, DC’s FotoWeek (sic) started with a bang last night.  The now empty, but once and future contemporary furniture stores and Lydia Cornell shops of Georgetown’s tony M Street have been repurposed into gleaming cavernous galleries of photography where the Washington cognosceti dined on raw oysters (thank you!) and “Foto-tinis,” known in other circles as the common Cosmopolitan.  But if you’re going to rewrite the English language why stop at Photo? ; )

National Geographic did an admirable job of printing the finalists for DC FotoWeek’s first annual contest, which was a wee bit heavy on the wedding and commercial photography, if you ask me (but since one of the founders of this endeavor is the owner of Chrome Imaging kinda makes sense that he’s going to gear towards the people who might actually help him stay in business – always the problem of sustenance – and those raw oysters don’t come cheap!).

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Across the street at 3333 M Street a more interesting variety of exhibits held forth.  You had the ginormous aisle of photobooks, a variety to satisfy all tastes.  An exhibit of blown up contact sheets by Contact Press Images photographers upstairs, and downstairs a small world cornucopia of offerings from various embassies in DC.

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My favorite of course was a heretofore unknown to me of a French man working in Lima, Peru in the 1880s -1900, Eugene Courret – gorgeous glass plate scenes of Limeno life:

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all © Eugene Courret

I enjoyed most of the Contact offering, but when I spied a large Contact sheet across the room, I didn’t even have to examine it closer to know that it was a Romanian orphanage.  It brought to mind Joerg’s recent arguements about the static evolution of photojournalism over the past 60 years.  This kind of predictability has begun to make me shudder.  I know, I know, it’s completely noble to bring awareness to these forgotten children, and it needs to be done so I don’t know what I really expect. And I suppose, it’s unfair of someone who makes her living trolling the U.S. for well-endowed women wearing lettuce bikinis to criticize.   I mean, I’m not actually saving the world from tofu-dogs am I?  Reader, I am not well.

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Contact’s Contact Sheets

Then there was the contact sheet by Annie Leibowitz an entire roll of the same shot of bloody footprints from the Rwandan genocide. I dunno, maybe  she was shooting with the intention of having it blown up as a giant object 15 years later or she had gotten bawled out for not working the situation enough, it just seemed a bit reducto absurdum to me.  I enjoyed David Burnett’s triptych of a Bolivian highlander – and there were many beautiful and interesting single images in the Contact exhibit, which on the whole was an honorable collection of gifted photographers like Ken Jarecke and Lori Grinker, and others.  You should definitely go and check it out for yourself.

All in all, it was very exciting to see the city turned over to photography (and APEC – hello traffic jams! It took me 20 minutes on Rock Creek Park to get from CT Ave to the Gtown exit – what up?!!!)  Images projected onto walls on M Street, galleries ablaze with festive lights in all parts of the city.  This is a good thing and I’m all for it.  So come out and support it!

Today I tour St. Elizabeths’ mental hospital, the old buildings, where the poet Ezra Pound was famously incarcerated back in the day. Then it’s off to my one portfolio review with the curator of the National Portrait Gallery, before finishing up a grant ap and heading to Slideluck Potshow tonight at FotoWeek central 3338 M Street. If you’re there please  say hi!

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