Saturday, 18 April 2009

The Outsiders // Diane Arbus

Diane Arbus, 1923-71, is also famous for her pictures of people.
In America in the 1960' she took pictures of the outsiders of society, freaks, waifs, transvestites, nudists, identical twins and stripteasers.
She tried to document the aspects of society that many people overlook.

'Child with toy hand grenade' ©Diane Arbus

She had a her own personal problems and in her pictures she reveals much of her own troubled personality.

D.Arbus: 'A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you, the less you know.'(Rothstein Doc.Photo.)

She was critizied for exploiting the people she photographed.

'Matt' writes in his blog that the critics accused Arbus of exploiting outcasts and those on the fringe; they claimed that she depicted others as 'Others' from her own privileged perspective on the inside. They claim that her photographs do not ennoble their subjects, that they posit freaks only as freaks.

I think this is to underestimate the viewer of the photographs. Diane Arbus is caturing the people of her time, people that have been hiding in the dark, and it does not feel as if she wants to show their freakish side. She want's to show their humanity. I think she felt very close to them. She came from a wealthy New York background, but didn't fit in. Maybe she felt like she fit in more with them?
What is most important in this Arbus argument, as 'Matt' states in his blog, is that - Ultimately the artist doesn't get to choose how the work of art will be decoded.

In this article about The Wade Twins in the picture above, the parents of the twins comment on the photo, saying how the picture doesn't look anything like their other photos of their girls. That Arbus made them look 'ghostly'.
Maybe Diane Arbus wanted them to look different? Maybe she felt different and 'like a freak' and therefor wanted her objects to be portrayed in that feeling.
But still I believe this is for us to interpret, and that she most of all wanted to portray the American society.

Arbus wouldn't cut it today
'Mario' in his blog, thinks Diane Arbus is a photographer of her time and today she would't stand out- I understand that statement, but to me she is amazing especially because she took the photos in 'her time', in the 60's. She pushed limits in a time when that was a big chance to take and I admire her for that.

1 comment:

  1. Diane Arbus appears to have been drawn to the individuals living in the twilight zone of society and to those people with mental and physical disabilities who were more widely branded as embarrasing and were consequently institutionalised and permanently kept in care.
    I believe she could identify with her subjects individual pain and strangeness. She found both personal intrigue and beauty in their apparent flaws.