Like many different styles of art, confessional photography is a very personal one, but what is it? If you were to google the definition of confessional art you would come upon the description ‘art that focuses on an intentional revelation of the private self that encourages an intimate analysis of the artist, artists subjects or spectators confidential and often controversial, experiences and emotions’. It sounds risqué and dangerous, but what about in the modern world? Is it just normal?
Nadia Bedzhanova, a New York based artist and photographer, shows us exactly how we can bring confessional photography to the modern world, except she does it using texts, translations and ‘nudes’. If we look at her collection ‘Hotel Love’ we see a love story between two separated by language, but united in a way that seems to be normal in todays society, raunchy pictures and well chosen emojis. Her story ‘fuelled by loneliness and longing’ according to dazeddigital.com. So if this is confessional photography in the modern day, how can we compare it to what used to be the norm for this particular art form? Not too long ago in the sixties and seventies, confessional photography was much simpler, it was showing your experiences, through your perspective to your audience. This was done particularly well by Larry Clark, who definitely fits the criteria for controversial experiences with the Oklahoma Youth and their engagements in illegal drug use, sex and violence.
Clark’s collection ‘Tulsa’ and also ‘Teenage Lust’ show us exactly how controversial his experiences were. Both collections feature vast amounts of nudity alongside gun use, heroin taking and emotion. Perhaps the most gritting image of the whole series being ‘Accidental Gunshot Wound’ showing a man who has obviously been shot by a friend during a session of drug taking and recklessness.
Some images are disturbing and emotionally stressing, it sort of makes me wish that they were staged. It seems strange that Clark was experiencing some of these things and seeing them as art, and more so the people in the photographs are just having fun, as they would do as normal.
So is confessional photography different now? Or are selfies and flirty texts the new norm for this type of art? It seems that confessional art changes with the time, all still as personal to the artist as before, and still just as controversial as before. Either way, confessional art can be portrayed however we wish, and it may relate to some of us more than others.
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Thanks for reading!