I am a perfectionist procrastinator and I'm not afraid to say it. It's taken me a long time to realize these things about myself- I hesitate to begin a project until I feel like I have absolutely everything that I could possibly need, I don't like to hang or present work until I feel like it's reached a real stopping/finishing point. This is what I've been struggling with a lot lately in regards to my Pacific-American diaspora work- how to put the work out there, accessible, in the world, while still actively making it.
As a fourth-year undergrad, my Professional Practices course brought in a gallery owner and had her give a talk to us about marketing our work to galleries. She asked the group of 30, "How many of you want to be photographer who hang work in galleries? How many of you want to make a living from making fine art images?" All but two of us raised their hands. Myself and one other student kept ours down. My classmate Chris explained that he was more interested in going into archiving and fabrication, and I talked about how in the balance between teaching and art making, teaching will always win out for me. Being a "gallery photographer" has never appealed to me. Art galleries and the art world are inherently inaccessible to the general public- a topic that I could go in to at length, but maybe I'll save that for another post.
So when considering how I want to present An Ocean, there's a lot of different elements to take into account:
- The work is ongoing.
- It is important to present the work as it happens/continuously.
- It should be immediately accessible to as many people as possible.
- People should not be kept from seeing it based on budget/location/time.
- Participants should have the ability to contribute their own voice to the work.
Thinking about these elements, several traditional forms of presenting photographs are immediately ruled out. Gallery spaces are only locationally accessible and books or magazines cost money to produce and ship. How else to people experience images? How else to people access photographs?
I made the decision recently to utilize Instagram as the fastest, cheapest, most widely accessible method of making this work as possible.
The Instagram format has already been as immediately accessible, interactive and discoverable as I'd hoped it would be. The ability to tag images means more people have the opportunity to happen upon the images while searching a specific tag, participants can tag themselves or their friends, and people can comment on particular images- which has already proved valuable when Mikhael, pictured at the lower right, added this comment to an image that was part of his story:
The account is still in it's infancy- but it's growth and reach in only the first three weeks of it's existence gives me confidence.