ZOE STRAUSS: I don’t get it.

by admin on March 3, 2012

From when I was a child I was taught that If I had nothing nice to say don’t say anything at all. That is why I will be as brief as possible.




I heard Zoe Strauss interviewed on the radio. I was impressed by her articulate descriptions of her work, her relationships with the people and her overall approach to living. I had also seen her work early on. So I went to see her exhibit at PMA and drove around the city to see the billboards.




With all due respect I didn’t get it!! I didn’t get PMA’s interests or the excitement about the work. I saw ordinary snap shots at best, and a contrived manipulation at worst. I tend to go with the first. There was nothing about the work that contained the elements that elevates street photography or any other style to art. I saw no sense of personal nobility, grace or respect in the human condition of the people in the portraits. With several exceptions, I saw no attention to the two dimensional: content without form or composition. Maybe that was the point. But as I said I don’t get it.



{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

mira bell March 3, 2012 at 10:13 am

Thank you for posting this. It seems many people are thinking the same thing but most are too afraid to say it. Though I like Zoe as a person, her work adds nothing new to the street photography already done since the 70s and is technically lacking. Thank you again.


Zoe Strauss March 3, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Yes! Thank you for posting this! I just got this post pop up on a blog alert of mine and have to thank you for your honest opinion of my work. For me, it’s very important to have an open dialogue about my work and not getting it or disliking it is OK. I think it’s true that because I’m from here that many folks who know me or are happy for my success find it difficult to say they’re not into my work. So while it seems kind of nuts to be saying this, thanks for putting this up! With Love, Zoe


admin March 3, 2012 at 2:24 pm

Hi Zoe,

It doesn’t seem nuts at all to me. I thank you for responding. and as with everything else “it is in the eye of the beholder”.
Congratulations on your success and may it continue into the infinite.
Best Regards
Armond Scavo


Lisa March 3, 2012 at 5:03 pm

all i can say is that was a classy exchange! politicians should have as much class! nice work you guys….


armond scavo March 3, 2012 at 8:38 pm

We e-mailed back and forth a bit with the same positive vibe.


Karen March 5, 2012 at 12:20 pm

This beholder was blown away by Zoe’s photographs yesterday, as was my twenty year-old niece. I am not a photographer, or an expert on photography, or even a dabbler. I can’t quite explain the effect…I just felt myself looking at a photo of bed in an empty room and aching over all the poverty in this country, and for myself for once potentially having been close to living that way, and the possibility that I could have to. I just felt like I was blasted, not by grace, or by fantastic photography, but by reality in all its forms–graceful, graceless, painful, scary, hopeful and funny. And I may have been imagining, but appreciated anyway, a little echo of Diane Arbus (another photog I’m randomely interested in). Zoe, I don’t know you, but I love your work.


admin March 5, 2012 at 2:47 pm

We bring our own experiences to much of what we perceive. Zoe’s work hit home with you. To have an artist’s work move you in such a way is testament to Zoe!!


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