Today, in our community, true photographic art is under attack from all directions. Leading the assault are the many voices which say nothing digital can ever honestly be called art. They would have you believe that sincere photographic art will share a coffin with film. For in an age where anyone can be a photographer - no one is a photographer. Beside these apologists of nihilism are other enemies of art, monopoly and bureaucracy.
The average artist who wishes to 'stay true to thine self' is derailed more by the general mandates of popular cliques than active persecution. The sort of things that are working against a photographic artist are the concentration of views, likes, and shares in the hands of a few egotistical men, the grip of monopoly on social media, the unwillingness of the public to spend money on photo books, making it necessary for every artist to earn his living by hackwork, the involvement with communal studios and workshops, which help the artist to keep alive but also waste his time and dictate his opinions, and the continuous atmosphere of toxic feminism of recent years, whose distorting effects no one has been able to escape.
Everything in our age conspires to turn the artist into an ambassador, working on themes handed to him from above and never achieving unsullied art. In a clique of artists, the idea of rebellion and artistic integrity are confused. Daring to stand alone is dangerous, in struggling against the current the artist gets no help from his own side. The independence of the artist is corroded by vague economic forces, and simultaneously sabotaged by those who should be its defenders.
The opponents of artistic liberty attempt to submit their case as a plea for discipline versus individualism. In order to be taken seriously as a photographer, your work must conform to indistinct standards, regardless of individual merit. The artist who refuses to compromise his style is labeled a mere egoist, accused of residing in an ivory tower, or making an exhibitionist display of his own personality, or of resisting the current only in an endeavor to cling to unjustified privileges.
Photographic art in our time consists almost entirely of young women in lingerie staring out windows, nude females soaking in colored baths, free spirited girls performing jumping jacks on train tracks, and voluptuous ladies arching their butts towards lenses. It is the unavoidable result of self censorship. To create true uninhibited art one has to think fearlessly, and if one thinks fearlessly one cannot be politically correct. There are only so many images you can create if you wish to fit in, and all of them artistic lies. As a result, the age of Instagram has produced terabytes of photos but almost nothing worth seeing.
While self censorship plagues aspiring artists, the bravest who overcome it are then violently silenced by tyrannical oppression. In 2014, the Barbican, a London arts center, cancelled controversial 'Exhibit B' after an angry mob deemed the 'human zoo' racist. The exhibit intended to confront European notions of racial supremacy and the current plight of immigrants by forcing audiences to engage with stories of exploitation. The same year, an Israeli company's music show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (who's slogan is "The world's greatest platform for creative freedom.") was cancelled after an incredibly disruptive Gaza protest. In 2013, black comedian Reginald D. Hunter was raked over the coals after saying the word 'nigger' at a stand up comedy show in London.
In 2015 Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum announced its decision to change "offensive" artwork titles, referencing Mohammed, indians, negros, dwarfs, and eskimos. Earlier that year, rock and roll trailblazer and Pretenders singer Chrissie Hynde was vehemently condemned for suggesting that it can be a woman's fault if she is raped. Chrissie bravely shared her story of being sexually assaulted at 21 years old by a biker gang while drunk, high on drugs, and provocatively dressed. Rather than supporting her and having honest conversations about women's safety, feminists attacked Chrissie for taking full responsibility, claiming she was in denial and victim blaming.
Whether or not you agree with them, these artists deserve to be heard, not swept under a carpet. They are martyrs who show us part of a bigger terrifying trend that aims to prevent people from making any kind of honest art at all. Totalitarianism demands the artist to discard objective truth and comply with the consensus of group think. This destruction of intellectual liberty cripples the artist, his work now devoid of individual feeling or truthful observation. If the current climate of political correctness succeeds in replacing truth, art will perish with it. Any artist who succumbs to the totalitarian structure, who finds excuses for persecution and the falsification of reality, ultimately destroys himself as an artist. As George Orwell said, "The imagination, like certain wild animals, will not breed in captivity. And any [artist] who denies that fact is, in effect, demanding his own destruction."