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  • Diane Arbus

    Diane Arbus (1923 - 1971)









    More plausibly, Arbus's photographys-with their acceptance of the appalling-suggest a naivete which is both coy and siniter, for it is based on distance, on privilege, on a feeling that what the viewer is asked to look at is really other. Buñuel, when asked once why he made movies, said that it was "to show that thi is not the best of all possible worlds." Arbus took photographys to show something simpler-that there is another world.





    Though most viewers are ready to imagine that these people, the citizens of the sexual underworld as well as the genetic freaks, are unhappy, few of the pictures actually show emotional distress. The photographs of deviates and real freaks do not accent their pain but, rather, their detachment and autonomy. The femal impersonators in their dressing rooms, the Mexican dwarf in his Manhattan hotel room, the Russian midgets in a living room on 100th street, and their kin are mostly shown as cheerful, self-accepting, matter-of-fact. Pain is more legible in the portraits of the normals: the quarreling elderly couple on a park bench, the New Orleans lady bartender at home with a souvenir dog, the boy in Central Park clenching his toy hand grenade.






    Diane Arbus's photographs were already famous to people who follow photography when she killed herself in 1971; but, as with Sylvia Plath, the attention her work has attracted since her death is of another order-a kind of apotheosis. The fact of her suicide seems to guarantee that her work is sincere, not voyeuristic, that it is compassionate, not cold. Her suicide also seems to make the photographs more devastating, as if it proved the photographs to have been dangerous to her.





    Thus, what is finally most troubling in Arbus's photographs is not their subject at all but the cumulative impression of the photographer's consciousness: the sense that what is presented is precisely a private vision, something voluntary. Arbus was not a poet delving into her entrails to relate her own pain but a photographer venturing out into the world to collect images that are painful. And for pain sought rather than just felt, there may be a less than obvious explanation According to Reich, the masochist's taste for pain does not spring form a love of pain but from the hope of procuring, by means of pain, a strong sensation; those handicapped by emotional or sensory analgesia only prefer pain to not feeling anything at all. But there is another explanation of why people seek pain, diamterically opposed to Reich's, that also seems pertinent: that they seek it not to feel more but to feel less.






    Photographing an appalling underworld (and a desolate, plastic overworld), she had no intention of entering into the horror experienced by the denizens of those worlds. They are to remain exotic, hence "terrific". Her view is always from the outside.









    수전 손택의 On Photography를 읽던 중 다이앤 아버스에 대한 이야기가 무척 흥미로워 작품들을 찾아보고 있다. 듀안 마이클 외에도 좋아하는 사진 작가가 한 명 더 생겼네.


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