Lucy Soutter’s Why Art Photography? is an accessible and engaging read. It is designed to “act as a ramp” – to allow people to connect or even reconnect with a medium that can be clouded by the opaque institutions, mysterious conventions and influential cliques that dominate the contemporary field. Soutter poses the questions on paradoxical qualities that some institutions have perhaps shied away from asking. Why is ambiguity now such a sought after attribute within contemporary photographic work? How did ethics become so open? How did we arrive at a stage where the ideas surrounding bodies of work are now so critical for interpretation, yet “frequently difficult to access”? Issues around objectivity, authenticity and hybrid genres are all tackled with an assured directness and Soutter uses key images from well-known photographers to give context to a range of arguments. The book is a great tool for dipping into various discussions, and in a digestible way it allows one to consider pertinent questions around photography as an art form.
£18.99 / 146pp / Feb 2013 / Routledge
Reviewed by James D. Clark
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