One of the more depressing features of the Visa Pour L’Image festival in Perpignan is spotting agencies that have gone missing in action presumed out of business. The giveaway sign is that of the missing booth, the most obvious this year being Notwork Photographers.
But a more intriguing absence was that of VII. With the exception of Alexandra Boulat doing a puff for Aperture at the Apple hall, none of VII’s nine members were anywhere to be seen, and most ominous of all: no booth. Given VII’s close association with Visa – the agency was effectively launched there and contributors have been regular exhibitors at the festival – their absence was all the stranger.
So whither VII? The answer: VII have become so cool that they’ve apparently given up on those boring old photojournalism festivals and are hanging out at MySpace instead. MySpace is of course better known as a launch pad for indy groups like the Arctic Monkeys than as a home for the cutting edge high end reportage VII claim to represent. A search of the term “photojournalism” on MySpace returns a limited number of links, and worst of all – whoops! – VII aren’t even one of the links returned.
Nevertheless VII have been using MySpace as a way to meet new friends – 848 so far – and run a competition for wannabe smudgers. First prize: a review of the winners’ portfolios by VII at their forthcoming seminar in New York. Second prize: a review of your portfolio by Magnum. And no, hold it, stop running away to MySpace to log on and enter anonymously: the contest is closed and the winners have already been announced.
Oddest of all is VII’s description of themselves: a 35-year-old Californian male, which hardly qualifies as hip by MySpace standards. However that does lead us to speculate on possible descriptions of other photo agencies. Corbis: 50-year-old nerd from Seattle. Getty Images: bastard offspring of the Alien and a rottweiler. Mmm…perhaps VII’s image isn’t so bad after all.