“Street and Studio”

Tate Modern

The game is fixed: As a structure for comprehending the history of photography, the dualism “street and studio” can mean only “street” versus “studio”—and in that agon, street must always win, just as spontaneity will always triumph over control, the crowd over the individual, fate over intention, punctum over studium, Dionysus over Apollo, life over art. “In true photography,” as the poet and essayist Murat Nemet-Nejat once observed, “the subject in front of the lens tends to overwhelm the photographic medium, photographic space and photographic frame”—and this ecstasis of the subject is more likely to occur in the disorder of the street than in the controlled conditions of the studio.

That said, the words street and studio may serve to designate not real places but ideal types that never occur in their pure form. No photographer represents the idea of the street more vividly than Weegee

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. Please sign in below.

Not registered for Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW and save up to 65% off the newsstand price for full online access to this issue and our archive.

Order the PRINT EDITION of the November 2008 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.