Photographer John Eder files this report from the field:
Scion, the car company, sponsors a gallery space here in L.A. They are slavishly trendy in their curating, and there is nothing trendier than Vice Magazine. The magazine is actually very well written and very funny, and I look forward to each issue, for real – for the writing. Their photography aesthetic, though, is squarely in the Terry Richardson/Ryan McGinley camp.
The show was curated by Jonnie Craig, a 20 something UK skateboard guy who has become majorly successful by more or less aping Ryan McGinley. In fact, Ryan McGinley is a champion of his work. So, this whole show was very homogeneous in the look, even tho it was 20 or so photographers, it ALL looked like it could have been shot by Ryan McGinley. It’s kind of like a math equation, where Johnnie Craig=Ryan McGlinley=Wolfgang Tillmans+Terry Richardson minus sex plus skateboards, kittens, cats, horses, tourist attractions, cigars and scabs (from skateboarding – there were two or three gnarly closeups of abscessed wounds, from different photographers), all of whose root number is Wm. Eggleston. More math in this equation is if you take 1000 pictures with your point and shoot of your friends or your cat, eventually you will get a few compelling frames.
It was good for people watching – loads of 19 year old girls tottering around in stripper shoes and the androgynous L.A. man-children who love them. The guys were actually far more the fashion show here, with a weird, femmy hipster vibe in full, uh, flower – lots of eyeliner, formal shoes with knee-socks and culottes or capri pants, old man glasses and silly mustaches, ironic t-shirts, wallet chains and plaid jackets that are two sizes too small.
Despite all this fashion rebellion on the part of the youth, virtually every conversation I blundered into was about branding and marketing. What was really funny was having this conversation in a group where one kid was so lit on acid and his pupils so dilated that I thought they were going to blow right out of his head. He said he was “tripping balls.” And yet, still, we were talking about branding and how genius Scion is at trend monitoring and appealing to the youth.
Anyway, that’s the report from the front lines of culture and photography here in Los Angeles.