Monday, April 21, 2008

Monkeys Make The Problem More Difficult: A Collective Interview With Garry Winogrand

I just finished reading some excerpts from Monkeys Make The Problem More Difficult: A Collective Interview With Garry Winogrand, compiled from audio recordings during a few Q & A sessions in Rochester, New York in 1970. Winogrand's enigmatic photographic philosophy is simultaneously both convoluted yet refreshingly simplistic.

The following exchange captures the essence of Winograndian thought.

Q= Unidentified Moderator
W= Winogrand

Q: What about the reoccurrence of, say, oh, monkeys, which goes back-
W: Listen, it's interesting; but it's interesting for photographic reasons, really-
Q: What are photographic reasons?
W: Basically, I mean, ah-well, let's say that for me anyway when a photograph is interesting, it's interesting because of the kind of photographic problem it states-which has to do with the...contest between content and form. And, you know, in terms of content, you can make a problem for yourself, I mean, make the contest difficult, let's say, with certain subject matter that is inherently dramatic. An injury could be, a dwarf can be, a monkey-if you run into a monkey in some idiot context, automatically you've got a very real problem taking place in the photograph. I mean, how do you beat it?
Q: Are you saying then that your primary concern is a kind of formal one?
W: Of course.

Also, you can find a fascinating video interview between Winogrand and Bill Moyers from 1982, here.

Central Park Zoo, New York City, 1964

Image © Garry Winogrand