I was happier than most to see MOPLA's creation last year. Despite the growing pains and initial mistakes any such endeavor would experience, I was excited to welcome this celebration of photography to Los Angeles.
It struck me as funny back then that there would be no juried show as part of the festival, where local photographers could submit and be showcased. Instead, someone made executive decisions as to who was included. While this is fine and quite normal in the art world, I hoped that year two would bring Angeleno photographers an opportunity to submit and be considered.
Instead, what we've got is this:
The Month of Photography Los Angeles will deliver the most comprehensive celebration of the Los Angeles Photography Community to date. With the support of the Photography Community, MOPLA will showcase the work of 160 Photographers who live, work and/or have extensive bodies of work relevant to Los Angeles (emphasis mine) through our Exhibitions and Projections. The city of Los Angeles turns 160 years old in April 2010. The theme for MOPLA 2010 is 160/160 - Celebrating 160 years of Los Angeles through 160 Photographers.Well, the problem with this is that it isn't true. Before delving into this, I'd like to preface it by saying that I've exhibited alongside and know personally some of the photographers I'll be naming. I'm a fan of much of their work. The issue is that these fine photographers DO NOT "live, work and/or have extensive bodies of work relevant to Los Angeles."
Some may have shows up at Los Angeles galleries and while that's great and all, it certainly gives the impression that nepotism or plutocracy is at play here.
PDN, a New York institution, will present a show of the PDN 30, just like last year. While I think this is great and all, to includ all 30 photographers in the list of 160 that purportedly are local or have worked locally is preposterous. It means that nearly 20% of those represented are represented as a favor to PDN and not because they have anything to do with our local photographic community. PDN is a magazine and a sponsor of the event and as such, appears to have been rewarded with 30 slots that should have gone to Angelenos.
I see there are currently 91 photographers that have been chosen as the group of 160. Were we to take out the 27 or so PDN selections that have nothing to do with LA and the remaining 10 photographers (see below) that have nothing to do with our fine city, save for local galleries putting on shows of their work or their agency being based here, that leaves us with just 54 photographers that match MOPLA's description, leaving 106 slots to be filled.
I call on MOPLA to fill these locally and partly through a juried exhibition. For obvious reasons, I won't enter and wouldn't expect to be selected. They can start with this blog and look at all the fine featured work that has appeared since its inception if they need any inspiration.
Included photographers who do not "live, work and/or have extensive bodies of work relevant to Los Angeles:"
27 of the PDN 30 photographers (to be conservative, though I don't see any outside Alex Prager who are local so it could be 29)
Eva Kolenko (Bay area at least...)
Ginny Mangrum (Bay area at least...)
Robert Bueltman (Bay area, at least...)
54 out of 160*
*My apologies if I overlooked something in compiling this list - I made a serious effort to research each one. I tried to be conservative and even left those that grew up or studied here but do not "live, work and/or have extensive bodies of work relevant to Los Angeles" since they are local in my mind. Still, we end up with just 52-54 out of the 91 named so far.
I welcome this fledgling event to our local community but wish they would execute better. Selecting outsiders when you state that you are selecting local photographers is an insult to our community. Finding 160 talented local photographers should not require too much effort if that is actually your intent. I'd be happy to make suggestions.
I know there are people that will not be happy with this posting. It probably won't do me any favors as a photographer, but having started WCST to help foster a greater photographic community in Los Angeles, how can I not speak out publicly about something that makes false claims and does just the opposite?
We are a thriving photographic community.
UPDATE: It was just pointed out to me by a fellow photographer/blogger that the entire roster of the LA-based agency, Sharpe + Associates is on the list; not just some of them. Hmm...