Conceptual, Postconceptual, Nonconceptual: Photography and the Depictive Arts

I would like to set aside, for now, the distinction between art and art with a capital A because this distinction may not exist, except as a polemical tool or an expression of personal opinion.Fifteen years ago, in “Marks of Indifference” I proposed that it was the dialectic of negation in which conceptual art implicated photography that paradoxically breached the final, most subtle, barriers to the acceptance of photography as art.That implied, I think, that photography played some central role in the elaboration of conceptual art, what I am going to call the conceptual reduction of autonomous art. I don’t know whether I meant to imply that or not, but, if I did, I shouldn’t have because photography had nothing to do with the success of conceptual art; photography played no significant role in it. Photography was a sort of passenger on that trip. We can put it even more strongly and say that the very presence of photographs in works or discourse distracted or diminished the logic of the arguments conceptual artists were making.The most rigorous conceptual artists had little or nothing to do with photography because they had no need for it and recognized that, as depiction, it could contribute nothing to the reduction they were seeking to establish. Jeff Wall