DIY: By the Numbers, Cleveland Museum of Art Show Update

For those of you making books, how cool is this? Just got this from Sheri at the museum in regard to the current DIY show revolving around photography books. How about this space and exhibition?

Just wanted to say nice job to the museum staff and congrats to the photographers and books chosen for the show. Pretty cool to think you can craft an “innocent” book on your own and end up in a place and space like this. I also think this looks like a very welcoming show. Come in, sit down, get your hands on the art. I am a huge fan of this modern approach to accessible artwork.

Cleveland Musuem of Art: DIY Photobooks

So I have this book called “On Approach.” I call this book, “The book that won’t die.” Technically, everything about this book is wrong, at least in terms of traditional thinking when it comes to the photographic book. It’s only 5×8. It has eleven photos total. It is only twenty-two pages. The paper is a 60-pound ivory paper never intended for photographs, and I purposely put critical or key elements in the gutter. Everything is wrong. The only problem is, for whatever reason, the book works.

This book has literally traveled the world. It’s sold in key, high-end photo bookstores. It’s in a variety of really high-end collections, and it has garnered me, BY FAR, more accolades than any other book I’ve done.
The saga continues in a good way. As we speak, this book is part of the “DIY Photobook” show at the Cleveland Museum of Art. I applaud the museum in dreaming up and fulfilling this show, and I’m truly thrilled to be part of it. I recently received the catalog that accompanies the show and was pleasantly surprised to see one of my images.

If ANYONE ends up at this show I would love a short report. I’m not sure I’m going to be able to make it and it’s driving me crazy. I’ll be everywhere else this fall but have no plans for Cleveland.

The moral of the story is not about me, or a show, or a museum. The moral of this story is to take our learned behavior, note it, and then move on and make something new, unique, interesting or different, especially when it comes to books. There is an entire world outside of the monograph and it’s our job as the “creatives” to explore.

There Has To Be More 2

I wanted to add something to the last post. I didn’t want to sound like I was being too down on gallery/museum opportunities. I do believe this world grabs a narrow audience, a sliver of the big picture, but that sliver can be fun, and also important in establishing work, selling prints, gaining recognition, etc.

So go after them already.

But, my point was to say, there is much more out there to do in terms of showing work. And, depending on the work, the traditional route of gallery/museum/publication, might not work.

Last week I photographed several people who I would venture to say have never been to a photo-gallery, and probably never will. I would also venture to guess that they have probably been to a museum once or twice in their life, but probably decades ago. So, how do I involve them in the exhibition? Invite them to a gallery show they are never going to attend?

Nope. Not enough. There has to be more. I have to invent how to get the community involved. It’s my responsibility as a photographer. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me to spend all this time engaging with a community, and then not have them involved in some way.

So, I’ll figure something out. And, if the work is good enough, then perhaps the gallery/museum pursuit at some point. But first things first.