briefs

2019-08-16

Art New Zealand

archive

A long time between drinks


It’s 32 years since my last appearance in Art New Zealand (Number 44, Spring 1987), a Riemke Ensing review of my first photobook ‘South Africa’ (1987) with a very good text by Vernon Wright.

This time ( Number 171, Spring 2019), I’m old and ravaged enough to be on the cover for an interview with the recent, very accomplished US immigrant to Aotearoa New Zealand, a straight talker with a big mind, Dr Sophia Powers, the first Marti Friedlander Lecturer in Photographic Practices and History, Department of Art History, University of Auckland. Here’s a brief excerpt, part of a question, part of an answer:

 
S.P. Your work often seems to shed light on narratives defined by dual perspectives. […] Do you think photography has a special ability to explore such complexities and tensions?
 
B.C. […] One dichotomy from the other side of the fence took me by surprise. A Paris publisher had rejected ‘Body of Work’ (2015) for publication, my artist book which forages for meaning amidst thoroughbred horse breeding. During a meeting three years later with another book proposal, I nudged him for an answer why. I respected this man a lot, I liked him before we had even shaken hands, and he tragically died too young a few months ago. He sat up straight in his chair and said, ‘In art and literature, the horse is the magnificent and romantic beast, and your book is not romantic.’ Perfect. A year after ‘Body of Work’ was published, a European reviewer said that this book ‘recalibrates the interesting and historical metaphor of the horse.’ It struck me in Paris that evening with the publisher that they were both saying the same thing. But for one it was a reason to loathe the book, and for the other a reason to love it.