Originality in art is becoming such a rare thing that an artist who is working completely independently often comes up with work that appears very original if it weren't for the fact that someone else on the other side of the globe is exploring nearly the same territory.
I discovered Miklos Gaal's work at the 2004 Scope Festival in New York. Gaal uses a view camera that allows him to play with the focus of his pictures in such a way that the subject looks miniature, as if Gaal was photographing an architectural model. I was crazy about this work when I first saw it and was lucky to be able to pick up a few small prints for less than $300 each. The work seemed like a very interesting niche in a very crowed art world.
A few months later, I'm flipping though a magazine and come across the latest body of work by the Italian photographer Olivo Barbieri' and he's doing the same thing (but to different conceptual ends I suppose). My excitement over Gaal faded a bit as a result.
Then, three months later in an issue of Canadian Art, I come across Toni Hafkenscheid (Marcia Wood carries his work) a young Canadian photographer (they sure can crank out good photogs up north) who was using the very same technique but in a less somber way so that his photos REALLY looked like miniatures because of the candy colored imagery.
Which brings us to today and the latest issue of Art Review which features a story on art & architecture. I flip to page 56 and upon seeing the image wonder who its by: Gaal? Barbieri? Hafkenscheid? No, it's yet another photographer, Frank van der Salm.
I like the work by all these photographers very much despite the fact that the work is similar. It is encouraging to see that Gaal has used this technique merely as a stepping off point and the work of Barbieri and van der Salm is merely part of a much larger body where this technique has not been used. Despite this, there is something disappointing about the similarities in the work.