Wednesday, March 21, 2007
An audio clip of Diane Arbus talking about photography is the mesmerizing centerpiece of Almanac Magazine, a new online effort of Ben Fernandez and Chris Callahan. I've pored over Arbus's pictures in books and on walls for years, but I was unprepared for the immediacy of hearing her voice.
It's 1970, she's talking to a roomful of students and admirers,but -- even though she's unusually gifted with words -- there's nothing polished about her presentation. It's an improvisation in the true sense; she doesn't know what she's going to say next; keeps giggling when she hears herself. What's amazing is her unguardedness. She talks about what she thinks drives her to take pictures as intimately as though the audience is her confidante or her shrink. This was something some people in the 1960s actually tried to do. Today we all think we know the cost. Maybe we're right.
Arbus killed herself a year later. Still, even knowing that, listening to her talk, I found myself falling in love with her.
Also in this 1st issue are pictures of Martin Luther King by Ben Fernandez. Fernandez is a great, mostly unknown chronicler of the protest movements of the 1960s & 1970s. These pictures, taken in the last years of King's life & including a heart-wrenching shot of his coffin, surrounded by his children, are a high point of the involved-photographer genre..