What the hell do we know? When we started our Booster Awards highlighting the promotional spin our institutions give their exhibitions, we reckoned without Te Papa’s Athol McCredie. Here is the curator of Brian Brake: lens on the world as reported by Diana Dekker in 23 October’s Dominion Post.
Reading the curator's commentary on Brian Brake’s achievements you do have to wonder why he was chosen as Te Papa's first major solo exhibition of a New Zealand photographer and only the fourth or fifth of a New Zealand 'artist'.
On Brake’s work, “I think there's some interesting bits in it.”
Brake's approach to magazine projects, “If the photographs had a personal style, it would get in the way.”
Brake vs Cartier-Bresson, “Cartier-Bresson...did have a unique vision. Brake’s work beside his showed little character.”
On Brake's aspirations, “Brake's work is usually illustrative work. What he is striving for is an attractive, pleasing moment.”
Brake's style, "I don't think he has a highly personal quality. Some would argue that if you took a group of photographs out of context you probably wouldn’t be able to say they were his.”
Assessment of Brake’s Asian photography, “the subject matter and colour doesn’t add up to vision in the sense of artistic vision."
Brake vs Westra, "You can look at a photo by Ans Westra and see it is a photo of hers. Like Brake she also worked for magazines in her working life, but she also pursues her own vision without commercial considerations”
And, to end on a more positive note:
“There has been no comprehensive biography of him (Brake) and is unlikely to be.”
Image: Ron Popeil introducing the Chop-O-Matic, in the late 1950s. Photo: Associated Press