Monday, November 26, 2012

Kathryn Fisher reviews Oscar Monzón “Sweet Car”

We have probably all experienced a time when we were faced with restrictions about where we could take our photographs, and potentially who we photograph and how we photograph them. In today’s society images and cameras are everywhere, and people are very concerned with privacy at the same time. When he photographs in public Oscar Monzón is consistently asked by people what he is doing. He feels that people have become more guarded about having their image, and often won’t have their picture taken unless they have control of it.

These are ideas that Monzón has chosen to take on in his latest project Sweet Car. In this project Monzón takes photos of people in their cars at night while they sit at stoplights in downtown Madrid. He stands on a bridge or the street, and zooms in with a telephoto lens and pops them with a flash. Some have called this work voyeuristic, but Monzón never tries to hide himself from view, and argues that he is not taking private images. He chose the car as a location because it is a space that blurs the line between public and private space. He is certainly confronting his subjects, but claims that his ultimate goal is to remind people that photographs are legal in public spaces and cause no immediate harm.

I love the idea of semi-voyeuristic images of people. There is something so completely wonderful about capturing an image of someone in a moment when they think no one is watching them; a moment when they are more themselves. I think as a series these images are interesting. The conversation they create about privacy, surveillance, and our relationship to cameras is incredibly relevant for today. However, I feel that the individual images could not stand separate from each other. At this point the images are clearly for shock value to stir conversation. Monzón says he wants people to realize that photographs will not cause them harm, but I don’t think that photographs of people holding dildos and snorting cocaine is going to communicate that message. For this work I am certainly more intrigued by the concept and conversation that the entire body of work creates, rather than the individual images.

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