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Featured: Patrick Dinneen


Patrick Dinneen’s body of work can’t help but challenge one’s understanding of the medium of photography and what most of us comfortably consider as art. Perhaps that is why his name is often quickly followed by the description, anti-art or anti-photography. Pinpointing the exact definition of what makes a piece of work anti-art is also not an easy task. In his Journal of Aesthetics & Art Criticism, George Dickie talks about the 4 different types of anti-art and one of those being art which has strikingly unusual content. With this in mind, I must admit when looking at some of Patrick’s work, the phrase anti-art is the first thing that comes to my mind.



1. Your work has been described as anti-photography. How do you feel about that?

Haha, I like that. I don’t think my work is necessarily “against” photography but I think that the phrase conveys the contrarian spirit of some of my work that many people wouldn’t consider to be strictly photographic.


2. How would you define your work?

My work is largely a process of exploration. It is a way for me to investigate the world today. This is usually informed by my preoccupations about life in our age. I am interested in creating work that provides fertile ground for stimulating questions, rather than stating conclusions. Sometimes, however, I’m just making photographs for the thrill of it.


3. What did you study and where?

I studied History of Art, Visual Communication, English and Computer Science at the University of Pretoria.


4. What role did art play in your upbringing?

Art has been a part of my life in some way for long as I can remember. Afternoon art classes were a part of early primary school life and ever since then all the way through to the end of university art was a large part of my education. Photography however came much later.


5. Please tell us about the first time you picked up a camera with intent. What was it to capture and why?

Just as I was starting to feel comfortable taking photographs all my cameras were stolen. I found myself living in Paris for the summer with no cameras and Susan Sontag’s On Photography. After I read those essays everything changed. That’s when I began to think more critically about photography. I finally got a camera and slowly started trying to take photographs again. While I can’t pinpoint the first time I picked up a camera with intent, I can say that that was when my journey started.


6. Please tell us about the following projects:


Food, etc

The most direct inspiration for this project came from Martin Parr’s food photographs, vanitas still lives and a girl on the subway holding a half-eaten donut. My intent was to make some photographs involving themes of transience and decay; something disposable.



The Dog Show Portraits

I was commissioned to produce some photographs for an exhibition called DOG. I chose to investigate dog shows and the world of glamor as it related to dogs in order to reflect on how we project human emotions and ideals of beauty onto dogs. My intent was to create portraits in which the viewer would read the dog’s expression and bearing as human character and emotions.




Too Many Filters

I was preoccupied with how filters are used in the photographs produced by Instagram and Hipstamatic. I set out to reinterpret the existing balance between subject and filter so that the filters would be the dominant subject and the original subject would be barely visible and would assume the role originally reserved for filters: to quietly add mood and tone to the picture, but to stay out of the way. To produce the images I kept applying and reapplying filters until the original subject was almost entirely lost.



Patrick Dineen is a photographer and artist who lives in Johannesburg but is usually threatening to leave. To see more of Patrick’s work make sure to visit



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