Likely to fade, deteriorate, or disappear.
Brief, deciduous, drifting, elusive, ephemeral, evanescent, evasive, fleeting, impermanent, momentary, nomadic, passing, short-lived, temporary, transient, unreachable, unattainable, wandering
Something elusive or hard to find.
Anyone trying to understand photography’s place in the world today is immediately confronted with the fact that there are two separate often opposing realms, the physical world of books and prints and the digital world of sites and iPads. No one has yet figured out the relationship between the two on a global scale, much less what this dichotomy means for individual artists trying to make photography their career, their livelihood.
The meme of the early years of the Internet itself, “information wants to be free,” has had surprising resilience, bedeviling artists in all media who can’t afford to give away their creative output but can’t afford not to use the web to get exposure and develop an audience. While some artists are beginning to create, distribute, even sell work that never leaves the world of bits and bytes, many of us continue to believe in the power of the photographic print. But how do we harness the new technologies to get our work out in the world without losing it in the cloud?
Vast effort has gone into making digital photographic prints archival—to improving print quality while extending viewing lifespan to over a hundred years. Similar effort has gone into making it possible for the first time in history to produce unlimited numbers of identical prints. Yet instead of exploring this new technology, the market has coalesced around the concept of “limited editions” that restrict artists to creating only a small number of permanent copies of any given image.
But what if in addition to these limited editions, artists could produce and sell unlimited numbers of self-destructing prints—prints that lasted 6–18 months before disappearing forever? What if fine art photographic prints had two realms, the world of vetted, high-end, limited archival editions and an unlimited world of Fugitivart prints? What would we do with that freedom?
Intentional impermanence has a long tradition in all art forms, from the outdoor installations of Andy Goldsworthy to the delicate wall drawings of Sol LeWitt, and it could have an important role in contemporary photography as well. If we let it.
One of the goals of the Fugitivart exhibition is to spur the creation of new works that explore photographs as both objects and experiences, that take advantage of “made to fade” as a tool for creating meaning. How might interjecting this new dimension—intentional impermanence—shake up the world of fine art photography?
Every print in the Fugitivart exhibition was ‘born’ just weeks before it was hung and engineered to fade away in 6–18 months. Further, every image was chosen because it expressed the idea of being fugitive in a distinctive and visually arresting way.
By concentrating on the images themselves and not on how many were made, how long they will last, or their resale value, Fugitivart has the power to reengage artists and the public in the irreplaceable beauty, power, and expressiveness of the photographic print.
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