Skip to main content

Visual Bulimia? A Bloated Surfeit of Images?

Moments ago a newsletter landed in my inbox from Le Mois de la Photo à MontrÉal, announcing its 14th edition of the Biannale of Contemporary Photography, curated by Catalan artist/curator, Joan Fontcuberta, to be held in MontrÉal in September.


It's unclear to me whether the words I'll quote are Fontcuberta's or are from the theme statement for this year's show proposed by him, The Post-Photographic Condition.  But attribution aside, as a lover of images and a lover of words, I was smitten by the statements in the newsletter:



                                                                                       Joan Fontcuberta


"Postphotography: The Revenge of Images

Images are striking back! The twentieth century has been dramatically iconoclast. Avant-garde artists have aggressed the image in every possible way: breaking, fragmenting, distorting, rearranging, displacing, uprooting... It is time for images to take revenge. So they are overwhelming us with an asphyxiating avalanche.

Images are now produced massively. They circulate throughout the Internet and the social networks. They sleep in the Cloud but when they wake up, they get furious. The proliferation of cheap cameras and digital platforms have brought us to the current situation of visual bulimia and a bloated surfeit of images. Photos are cost-free, unlimited, immediate, and immaterial. In most cases they are also banal and aimed at mass-consumption. Is there any chance of resisting that photo tsunami? How is new generation of photographers attempting to respond critically?"


These words announce a lecture by Mr. Fontcuberta at MontrÉal's Concordia University in 3 days, on Friday, February 13th.  While I'm sure the lecture will be a stimulating one, for my purposes here, the statement above expands on  thoughts I've had myself regarding the "tsunami" of images assailing us from every direction and, while I don't want to impinge on anyone's creativity or the simple recording of our lives, does the sheer volume of pictures devalue them all in some way?  Or, at very least, make those of value to us infinitely more difficult to isolate?


Travel Gumbo is a place where images are valued, probably above all else that we post for others to enjoy.  So I wonder what others here think about Mr. Fontcuberta's premise.



Le Mois de la Photo à MontrÉal website.

About the exhibition and curator.






Images (1)
  • Fontcuberta_275h

Add Comment

Comments (1)

Newest · Oldest · Popular

Sheer volume has become a digital-age issue not only for images. The constant flow of e-mail (more spam than real, often); tweets about celebrities' teeth, clothes and turmoil; TV and radio repetitions as well as Konstant Kardashians are serious forms of mind pollution.


Sometimes it takes an extended series of images to create a picture, an insight. But too many will mask, not highlight, the point. That's why I enjoy well-curated exhibits of the work of thoughtful (not merely skillful) photographers. By having the opportunity to see, from multiple encounters, the issues that Lewis Hine, or Brassai, or Capa was addressing, I can not only see their point, but form one of my own. Neither a single image, nor an unedited avalanche, can create that dialog between us and the creators.

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

Link copied to your clipboard.