On Renegade Photography
This is a photograph of a sculpture by artist Olafur Eliasson currently on display at the SF Museum of Modern Art. The SF Moma does not allow photography in their museum. I took this photograph anyways. I've actually got a bunch more of what I'm calling renegade photography from my visit to the SF Moma on Friday.
This was the first time that I'd been to the SF Moma since 2004 when I went to see photographer Larry Sultan's show "The Valley." As much as I love contemporary art, since visting the SF Moma in 2004 I found it just too difficult to support an institution that did not allow photography. The de Young Museum, the Legion of Honor, and the Oakland Museum of California (by contrast to the SF Moma) all do allow photography in their permanent collections. In the past I'd looked at the SF Moma's right to not allow photography as their right and as my right the right not to go and support them.
Last week though I decided that I was going to go back to the SF Moma after a three year hiatus to see Jeff Wall's brilliant photography. I've admired Wall's work and wanted to see in real life the large sized lightboxed photographs that he has on display. (These photos are very much worth seeing by the way if you can make it to the SF Moma).
Rather than simply miss Jeff Wall's work due to my dogmatic protest against the SF Moma's anti-photography policy, I decided that I would go, but that I'd shoot anyways. Several times I was asked not to photograph and I'd comply when asked only to whip out the camera and begin shooting again in the next gallery. It did make for more difficult and challenging shooting (often times shooting blind as the camera hung around my neck to avoid detection), but I definitely got some interesting shots. The photo above is just one of many more that you'll see uploaded and published by me in the days ahead.
This recent trip to the SF Moma has made me rethink my aversion to places where photography is not allowed. I think I'll be going to a lot more of them in the future, I'll just be collecting my own style of renegade photographs in the process. At some point I'll probably use these photographs to construct a renegade photography collage of sorts.
I'm sure this rubs some people the wrong way, that I'd purposely disrespect an institution's right to restrict photography in a private place. But I believe that art should be more open. That it should be more public. I believe that as a non-profit for the general public's artistic enlightenment, that the SF Moma should have a more tolerant photography policy and I believe that renegade photography is a good thing and will create a more vibrant and beautiful world for us all to share in.