Thursday, April 08, 2010

Tales From FotoFest

The stage is set for portfolio speed-dating
I've always wanted to go to Houston for FotoFest. The shows, the people, the line dancing. One year I'll get down there. In the meantime I asked a two friends, Phil Toledano and Justine Reyes, who attended the portfolio reviews this year to report back from the trenches. It's been a few days since they returned home, but you get the idea.

Phil Toledano
Now I know what it’s like to be a cow at the meat-yard, waiting for the compressed-air bolt to the forehead.

Fotofest is a very interesting experience-it peels back the little band-aid the covers the giant weeping rash of desperation that all (ok-most) of us suffer from. Of course, it’s useful-for some of us, it’ll crack open a career. But (to quote George Bush, which I try and do as much as possible) make no mistake-we’re all down here dancing about like monkeys, selling our wares. Is this a little bleak? Well, I suppose so, but then again, I am the Morrisey of photography.

Sometimes I’m asked what I hope to get out of a meeting. Honestly? The only thing I’d like to hear is something along the lines of: “I’ve never seen genius of this importance before in my life-hang on, let me get the curator of MOMA on the horn” That would be great. Or a screaming artgasm ‘when harry met sally’ style, reviewer white-knuckling the sides of the table.

But I’ll settle for a group show in Nebraska.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a good time, and I’ve had some lovely conversations with some people who seemed (at the time) interested. I also met some really great photographers (red Sonja and death reyes-shout out to my peeps!)

We all ask each other how it’s going, and it’s a question I find very hard to answer. Some people liked my work, others, not so much. You really don’t have any clue. It can take a week, a month, or a few years.

Justine Reyes
Last day at Fotofest. Trying to summarize this experience seems like an extremely daunting task at the moment. I am exhausted. Being a first timer I guess I didn’t quite know what to expect. For only four days a lot is packed in. I met with ten reviewers today alone and then did an open portfolio night.

On the good side I have gotten to know some really lovely people, talented photographers and critical thinkers. It has been fun looking at people’s work and getting feedback on my own.

On the bad side there is at times this odd competitive/aggressive energy that I naively wasn’t expecting to encounter.

All in all I am glad I got to come and be a part of it although I don’t think I will be able to process this experience fully until after I return home and escape the vortex that is Fotofest.
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