9.20.2012

New Ideas in Photography: Abelardo Morell

© Abelardo Morell, Camera Obscura: View of Volta Del Canal in Palazzo Room Painted With Jungle Motif, Venice, Italy, 2008

Colin Pantall and Joerg Colberg have organized a collaborative community initiative to start the fall. They asked a range of bloggers and editors to select up to five photographers who "have demonstrated an openness to use new ideas in photography, who have taken chances with their photography and have shown an unwillingness to play it safe. These three categories can be interpreted in any way."

The nominations are being posted starting today. This week I will select and post a photographer each day. My five selections are not in any order.

Other selections for this initiative will be posted on (or by): Conscientious, Colin PantallAndrew PhelpsaCuratorMrs DeaneReciprocity failureHarvey BengeMicrocordLPV Magazine, and Stella Kramer.
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First a few words on how I made my selections and interpreted the criteria.

I took "new ideas" to mean visually and thematically fresh photography, but not necessarily working within or creating new modes of photography.

"Taken chances" and "unwillingness to play it safe" I understood as photography that has prefaced the pursuit of the internal logic of a project and individual artistic lines of thought over engaging contemporary visual trends - as well as over the artist's own history in making images.

Finally, I also added my own final criteria, choosing photographers I believe produce strong images in addition to using new ideas and taking chances.

I came up with a list of 24 photographers over the last couple months, adding names as I came across new work or thought of someone's work that I believe fits the criteria. I cut the list down to 10 fairly quickly, but getting from 10 to 5 has been difficult. At this point, however, it's time to leap.
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My first three selections for the series were Bryan GrafAmy Elkins, and Paul Graham.

My fourth selection for the series is Abelardo Morell.

It's hard to think of a photographer more consistently self-challenging and innovative than Morell. His experiments with light and perception, his imaginative repurposing of traditional camera techniques, his playfulness, humor, and visual cleverness are simply unique. His journey from young black and white street photographer to his new color work with tent cameras is an exemplary record of allowing curiosity and vision to drive his work forwards into fresh visual territory, never allowing any of his many successful projects to seduce him into stasis and repetition.

© Abelardo Morell, Map of North America, 1996


© Abelardo Morell, Light Bulb, 1991


© Abelardo Morell, Tent-Camera Image On Ground: Rooftop view of Midtown Manhattan Looking South East, 2010

© Abelardo Morell, Camera Obscura Image of El Vedado, Havana, Looking Northwest, 2002