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Garry Winogrand’s “Public Relations” Project

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With his “Public Relations” project, Winogrand is considered to be among the first to show that the event was of secondary importance to the photograph of the event. “Public Relations” is considered to be at the cusp of postmodernism; with the project he fulfilled the notion that the event existed in order to be photographed.

Premieres nationwide Friday, April 19 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), pbs.org/americanmasters and the PBS Video app. 

TRANSCRIPT

- I read it in the joke attributed to Norman Mailer and it goes like this, this grandmother, her grandson is in the stroller and pushing him down the street.

And somebody she knows stops her and starts admiring this little boy, just talking about him, what a beautiful head of hair, the color of his lips and his eye color and this woman finally says, 'Stop, stop.

'If you think he's something, you should see his picture.'

(audience laughs) - [Man] I think the public relations work, it's a body of work which seems less remarkable now perhaps, precisely because it was so successful.

I could be mistaken but I think Winogrand was one of the first people to observe and document this idea of the event that existed in order to be filmed.

Now of course, we don't even find it extraordinary.

- [Man] Yeah, I mean the picture of a bunch of photographers photographing the scene is a cliche now.

But at the time I don't think it was.

- [Woman] Public relations was really the cusp of Postmodernism.

He was the one who was saying that the event itself doesn't matter, it's its image.

It was the harbinger of the selfie generation.

- Because we get to watch the Vietnam War on television, the use of the media, the use of photographs, the use of television to give us information begins to be called into question.

And that, in terms of photography, I think, is the basis of the Postmodern movement.

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