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Matinee: 'New Photography II Awards' Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

26 September 2020

Saturday matinees long ago let us escape from the ordinary world to the island of the Swiss Family Robinson or the mutinous decks of the Bounty. Why not, we thought, escape the usual fare here with Saturday matinees of our favorite photography films?

So we're pleased to present the 272nd in our series of Saturday matinees today: New Photography II Awards.

Judging photography exhibitions is harder than it sounds. You have to live with your decisions. Which, you know, nobody is going to agree with.

The only way to approach it is with humility, explaining what it is about the works you chose that you admire. And that's precisely what Philip Brookman does in this seven-minute video.

Brookman wears a lot of hats as a curator, photographer, filmmaker and writer. His books, essays and documentaries explore modern photography, media, culture, family and the visual arts.

He was the chief curator and head of research at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. from 1993 to 2014. There he organized major exhibitions of photographers Robert Frank, Jim Goldberg, Sally Mann and Gordon Parks, among others. He is currently the consulting curator in the Department of Photographs at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.

And he is the author of Helios: Eadweard Muybridge in a Time of Change.

Not a bad exhibition juror (not to mention curator) for the Academy Art Museum in Easton, Md. to lasso.

He starts by saying how glad he is to have seen the work of all of the exhibitors. And the three exhibit winners he picks will make you want to see the rest of the exhibition.

Judging is a subjective job, he admits. But he is judging the work through the lens of what he knows, he points out. He doesn't know these photographers but that just brings fresh eyes to the job, he adds.

We'll let him describe the work of the three photographers but it's an incisive appreciation of what each one accomplished in a single work, a triptych and another two experimental works -- all of which are nicely presented in the video.

They're worth a peek, certainly, although we suspect you might order them differently than Brookman, according to your own taste.

He made the point that seeing them online, as he did, wasn't the same as seeing them in person at the exhibition, which he also did. That made it easier to appreciate the technical refinement of the prints.

But you needn't give him the benefit of the doubt. He makes a persuasive case for each artist, candidly revealing what an attentive viewer can take away from their work.

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