Sasha KurmazUntitled (2010)

Folks are fond of reminding me of Helen Levitt’s notion that the only substantive difference between making work and thinking about making work is whether or not you’re running film through the camera.

I used to object; splitting hairs on the grounds that Levitt was a street photographer and I’m a landscape photographer.

Then I saw this photograph and chugged a big ol’ tallboy of Shutting the Hell Up™.

Great work has this way of transcending the specific confines that contributed to its creation

I’m reasonably sure Levitt would object to mention of her or her work in the context of the image above.

And I’m not sure I’d take issue with her quibble. Kurmaz’s work is largely derivative–borrowing wholesale, in turns from Ren Hang, Maurycy Gomulicki and Igor Mukhin.

As a result, his body of work is distinguished more by its high-gloss, fashion/lifestyle than a distinctive photographic voice.

Still, browsing his Flickr proves Levitt’s point: as long as you are shooting there’s liable to be some perfect storm of mitigating circumstances where good work stumbles through in spite of everything.

This is one such image. (Also, to his credit, Kurmaz seems very aware of this image’s ability both to read as homage and to accomplish something distinct from the work it clearly references–something that functions similarly only using music instead of images consider the Beastie Boys’ monumental Paul’s Boutique.)

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