Preston Merchant, photographer, writer (USA)


Merchant.jpgAt the risk of spoiling the party, I will say that I am anti-manifesto. Manifestoes are creeds, statements of belief, lists of political or artistic positions, loyalty tests, exclusionary devices, frontal challenges, stiflers of debate, rallying cries, ideological touchstones, political entrenchments, club memberships, weapons against dissent, wilful provocations.

An artist's loyalty should be to his or her own integrity, to the intellectual and creative challenges, and to the work itself and not to a set of bullet points on a sheet of paper – which are political positions. Great art works against conventions, entrenched ideas, and grand pronouncements. It subverts expectations and creates new ones. It is the triumph of individual expression over groupthink.

You photograph (or paint, sculpt, write, carve) with all your ideology. It's there in what you create, unavoidable. It's unique. Embrace its fluid and ineluctable beauty in your work. That's your manifesto.