Texts by Thomas Beard, Eric Crosby, Lane Relyea, and Eva Respini
Despite its apparent throwaway status, the stock image comprises the primary commodity of a billion-dollar global industry with far-reaching effects in the marketplace and the public sphere. Taking this overlooked facet of contemporary life as a point of departure, Ordinary Pictures explores the photographic apparatuses and commercial interests that have given rise to our generic image culture through the conceptual image-based work of some 40 artists, including John Baldessari, Steven Baldi, Sarah Charlesworth, Anne Collier, Liz Deschenes, John Divola, Aleksandra Domanović, Hans-Peter Feldmann, Morgan Fisher, Hollis Frampton, Jack Goldstein, Rachel Harrison, Robert Heinecken, Leslie Hewitt, Elad Lassry, Louise Lawler, Sherrie Levine, Steve McQueen, Jack Pierson, Peter Piller, Seth Price, Amanda Rossotto, Ed Ruscha, Steven Shore, Sturtevant, Mungo Thomson, Wolfgang Tillmans, Tseng Kwong Chi, Julia Wachtel, and Christopher Williams. Spanning generations, movements, and artistic strategies from the 1960s to the present day, this publication brings together works by artists who have probed, mimicked, and critiqued this aspect of our visual environment as well as its industrial modes of production and distribution. Through the work of these artists and a series of scholarly essays, the catalogue aims to examine different operations of the generic image in culture, namely its anonymous circulation and editorial uses, its adaptability and reproducibility, its technical processes of production, its claim to copyright and artistic license, and its tendency toward abstraction. Featuring a unique, coil-bound design reminiscent of stock photo catalogues and a flexidisc recording by the artist Jack Goldstein, this highly collectible book ultimately reflects on contemporary art’s own complicit function as an expanding industrial image economy.