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Germaine Greer vs. Diane Arbus: ‘If she had been a man, I’d have kicked her in the balls’

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Though Diane Arbus was famed for her photographs of “deviant and marginal” people “whose normality seems ugly or surreal,” she did not want to be thought solely as a photographer of freaks. This in part may explain why Arbus accepted a commission to take a portrait photograph of Germaine Greer for the publication New Woman. Unless, of course, the magazine’s editors thought there was something freakish about the Antipodean academic, journalist and feminist?

On a hot summer’s day in 1971, Arbus arrived to photograph Greer at the Chelsea Hotel. Greer was on tour with her book The Female Eunuch and had most recently taken part in an infamous head-to-head with Norman Mailer at New York City’s Town Hall. Seeing the diminutive photographer was overly laden with equipment, Greer helped Arbus up to her hotel suite.

Greer may have been showing consideration to the photographer, but the session soon turned into a battle of wills as Arbus ordered the Greer around the room, telling her to lie on the bed, and then straddling her as she snapped away. Greer later related meeting with Arbus to the photographer’s biographer Patricia Bosworth:

It developed into a sort of duel between us, because I resisted being photographed like that—close up with all my pores and lines showing!! She kept asking me all sorts of personal questions, and I became aware that she would only shoot when my face was showing tension or concern or boredom or annoyance (and there was plenty of that, let me tell you), but because she was a woman I didn’t tell her to fuck off. If she had been a man, I’d have kicked her in the balls.

Unable to deliver a telling kick, Greer opted not to co-operate.

‘I decided “Damn it, you’re not going to do this to me, lady. I’m not going to be photographed like one of your grotesque freaks!”  So I stiffened my face like a mask.

Greer would later claim the duel with Arbus as a draw, but as Howard Sounes noted in his superlative cultural biography of the Seventies:

The editors at New Woman evidently thought Greer vs. Arbus had resulted in defeat for the photographer, for her pictures were never used in the magazine. In a letter to [her husband] Allan, Diane discussed her attitude to the shoot, perhaps revealing her approach to her subjects generally. She wrote that she had liked Germaine Greer personally, considering her to be ‘fun and terrific looking…’ Nevertheless she went out of her way to depict her in an unflattering light. As she said, ‘I managed to managed to make otherwise.’

The picture from the session, printed posthumously as ‘Feminist in her hotel room, NYC, 1971’, is in fact fascinating, not least because in close-up, Greer’s neatly plucked and re-applied eyebrows more than a passing resemblance to the transvestite in curlers Arbus photographed back in 1966.

Arbus was not best suited to working as a freelance photographer—the hours spent pitching ideas that often came to nothing, or struggling to earn agreed fees from indifferent publishing houses to maintain her independence, caused her deep depression. Taking fashionable portraits of celebrity figures was hardly the work for an artist photographer who believed:

A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know.

 
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Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Soviet posters warn soldiers and civilians not to leak state secrets
08.27.2014
01:06 pm

Topics:
Art
History

Tags:
Soviet propaganda


“In a letter home, look, you do not accidentally become loose military secrets.” (1954) Because in Soviet Russia, a gossip-goblin lay in wait at ever window, hoping to disseminate classified information from soldier’s correspondence.
 
Calls for civic discretion during wartime have always been a rich source of propaganda. “Loose lips sink ships” is the classic American slogan, and the British “Keep mum,” feels appropriately prissy for our allies across the pond. I recently learned that the Swedes promoted the punny “en svensk tiger” during World War 2 (“tiger” meaning both “tiger” and “silent”), but no one quite does discipline like the Germans, who went with, “Schäm Dich, Schwätzer!” meaning “Shame on you, blabbermouth!”

My theory is that these axioms are intended more to foster xenophobia and suspicion than the protect actual state secrets. Most rank-and-file military don’t even have access to sensitive information. Even in the field, their communications are heavily monitored and most soldiers are kept on a need-to-know basis, so the likelihood of soldiers leaking even so much as a location is very low. As for civilians, well, I’ve never had access to anything “sensitive”—but perhaps my garrulous reputation precedes me? 
 

“Do not talk! Strictly keep the military and state secrets” (1958)
 

“Be watchful and vigilant!” (1951)
 
More Soviet posters after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Tape Decks: VHS-themed skate decks
08.27.2014
11:34 am

Topics:
Amusing
Art

Tags:
VHS tape
skate decks


 
I’m digging on these skate decks paying homage to 80s and 90s VHS cassette packaging. NYC-based skate­board com­pany 5BORO is selling these puppies and you check out the whole collection here. They’re reasonably priced at $49.99.

 
via Nerdcore

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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‘Tase me, bro!’: Portraits of people getting tased—but by a loved one
08.27.2014
08:10 am

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Amusing
Art

Tags:
Patrick Hall
tasers


 
Patrick Hall, Charleston-based photographer and founder of fstoppers, recently posted the fruits of a strange and delightful photo shoot in which “each person was tazed by their friend or significant other.” As Hall writes in his project description, “The emotions on both sides of the taser were extremely entertaining to watch. The person getting tazed was almost always nervous and jittery with either a sense of fear or anxiety. The participants doing the tazing had a different demeanor altogether. Most of them were excited to cause pain to their friend and only showed remorse immediately after executing the shock.” 

The video at bottom, which shows some of the tasing in slow motion, is wildly entertaining. There’s a surprising amount of mirth in the video, which is surely part of Hall’s point, about the deflecting need to veer into humor when something unpleasant is going on.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
via designboom

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Cholafied: Celebrities as female Mexican gang members
08.26.2014
08:40 am

Topics:
Amusing
Art
Fashion

Tags:
photography
gangs
Cholafied


Cholafied Jay-Z.
 
Cholafied comes from the mind of Michael Jason Enriques, an LA kid who grew up in the 1990s.

It’s a throwback to the Chola gangster style: “Sharpied” eyebrows, dark lipliner, and the fumes from a can of Aqua Net.

It’s a product of LA where subculture, celebrity obsession, street art, and stupidity are rolled up together like one of those bacon wraped hot dogs sold on Hollywood Blvd.

See more of Michael’s “Cholafied” celebrities here.
 

‘Do you feel lucky, Chola?’: Clint Eastwood.
 

The Royal Chola Queen Elizabeth dos.
 

Chola Wonder Woman
 

Chola Mark Zuckerberg
 
More after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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‘Peyote Queen’: Storm De Hirsch, the woman who made movies without a camera
08.26.2014
08:14 am

Topics:
Animation
Art
Drugs
Movies

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Storm de Hirsch


 
Storm De Hirsch is one of those avant-garde goddesses without much name-recognition outside of underground film circles, but her influence and dynamism has always been lauded by peers. Jonas Mekas, for example (often referred to as the “godfather of American avant-garde cinema”), called her psychedelic classic, Peyote Queen, “among my favorites ... beauty and excitement.”

De Hirsch was actually a published poet before transitioning to film, and as such didn’t have ready access to a camera early on. Her first improvisational techniques were innovative manipulations of whatever film was just lying around at the time, making her as much a “sculptor” of celluloid as a filmmaker. The results of her experiments are now recognized as foundational films in avant-garde cinema. In an interview with Mekas, she spoke of her early work, like Peyote Queen, saying:

I wanted badly to make an animated short, but I had no camera available.  I did have some old, unused film stock and several rolls of 16mm sound tape. So I used that—plus a variety of discarded surgical instruments and the sharp edge of a screwdriver — by cutting, etching, and painting directly on both film and [sound] tape

 

 
De Hirsch continued making films into the 1970s, and though she eventually got ahold of a camera, it’s what she accomplished without one that most baldly represents her creative drive. She was dedicated to the work and its preservation, even hand repairing the raw film itself, (which one would assume was left very delicate after her initial artistic mangling). One of her former intern even remembers her hand-coloring the fading frames of Peyote Queen with magic marker in 1973, restoring the splashy, electric feel you see below.

 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Babies covered with corporate logos
08.26.2014
07:27 am

Topics:
Advertising
Art

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Dietrich Wegner


Cumulous Brand
 
Australian artist Dietrich Wegner’s preverbal infants festooned with corporate logos, known collectively as “Cumulous Brand,” come in two forms, 2D Photoshopped images of real children and 3D sculptures made of silicone and foam. These artworks may be more thoughtful than they first appear to be—the logos are not selected randomly but rather emerge as the brands that are most relevant to the parent or guardian of the child depicted. According to Wegner, he “put(s) opposites together in works that feed on the friction between two things that should not make sense together. ... In Cumulous Brand, babies are covered in multicolored tattoos. The tattoos are selected through an interview process with an adult prominent in the child’s life, usually the parents. Each work is a portrait through the logos of the products used, the activities participated in and organizations belonged to throughout this adult’s life.”

It’s estimated that a child sees 40,000 television commercials in a typical year. Corporations have an intense interest in insinuating themselves into a newborn’s life, in ways that might not apply to civic groups, governmental agencies, educational organizations, etc. “Reading” these infants, I see an awful lot of brands I use. In turning these children into billboards, it’s a healthy reminder of the forces that act upon all of us.
 

Cumulous Brand, Sabine Sitting Up
 

Cumulous Brand, Bill
 

Cumulous Brand, Sabine & Sebastian
 

Cumulous Brand, Sebastian As Grandma Susan
 

Cumulous Brand, Beatrice
 

Cumulous Brand, Sebastian as Auntie Gretchen
 
Thank you Brian Boucher!

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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‘Marlboro Boys’: Indonesia’s child smokers
08.25.2014
09:52 am

Topics:
Art
Drugs

Tags:
tobacco


 
Canadian documentary photographer Michelle Siu records “vulnerable people and disenfranchised cultures.” In the past that has meant the First Nations people of Lake St. Martin in Manitoba, who have been displaced from their land by flooding, or the destruction wrought upon the Philippines by Typhoon Haiyan. In her series, “Marlboro Boys,” the disaster is man-made.

With the fifth largest tobacco market in the world, Indonesia fosters a large portion of their economy on addiction, both at home and abroad. Liu’s portraiture of young boys smoking is both lovely and startling, but rather than presenting her work without comment for transnational rubbernecking, she contextualizes her subjects within the unique political conditions of the country. From her website:

Indonesia’s relationship with tobacco is complex. Cheap cigarettes, ubiquitous tobacco advertising, a powerful tobacco lobby, inadequate information about health risks and lack of enforcement of national health regulations helps fuel a national addiction.

67% of men in Indonesia smoke and they keep getting younger. In 1995, around 71,000 children aged 10 to 14 were smokers and in 2010 that figure increased to more than 426,000.

International efforts at quelling Indonesian tobacco usage have been completely fruitless. In 2003, The World Health Organization adopted the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control as their first ever internationally negotiated treaty. Of the 179 countries participating—representing almost 90 percent of the world population—Indonesia has yet to join.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Via Juxtapoz

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Artist creates riverbed that fills an entire wing of museum
08.22.2014
01:31 pm

Topics:
Art

Tags:
Denmark
Olafur Eliasson


 
Olafur Eliasson’s installation, humbly titled “Riverbed,” covers the entire South Wing of Denmark’s Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. The Danish-Icelandic artist did a similar work in 2008 where he covered the floor with lava-rock rubble, but the rooms used weren’t entirely cleared out, giving the space more of a “dirty floor” effect. That rubble floor is also very similar to Walter De Maria’s 1977 “New York Earth Room”—which is still exhibited, and is literally just a dirt floor covering a few rooms in a museum.

With “Riverbed,” it’s the harsh contrast of the sterile (fluorescent lighting, blinding white walls), against the organic (remarkably natural-looking floor), that makes for an uncanny ambiance. Viewers are encouraged to wander the landscape and interact with the environment, crawling through low entrances to other portions of the exhibit and possibly getting their shoes a little soggy. Little explanation is given for the exhibit, but I’d argue the vibe is distinctly portentous, hinting at a bleak future where nature is scarce, or has to be synthesized by man in order to be experienced safely.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Via Hyperallergic

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Russia to cheeky Bulgarians: Quit messing up our war memorials

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Vandalizing Soviet-era war memorials to fallen soldiers in clever ways in Eastern Europe has become an anonymous sport. Well, Russian diplomats call it vandalism. Others call it awesome street art.

The Russian government has gotten increasingly pissed off by the attacks on the frequently targeted bas relief sculptures on the west side of the pedestal of the Monument to the Soviet Army in Sofia, Bulgaria. The Russian embassy officially requested that Bulgarian authorities clean up the most recent incident this month, in which red paint was daubed on the monument on the eve of the 123rd anniversary of the founding of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, track down and punish those responsible, and do more to protect the statues instead of what they’re probably doing now, which is taking photos of it with their smartphones each time it’s vandalized.
 
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Earlier this year the monument was spray-painted the colors of the Ukrainian flag. In 2011 the long-suffering soldier statues on the monument were notoriously painted to include Ronald McDonald, Wonder Woman, Robin, Santa Claus, The Joker, The Mask, Superman, Wolverine, Captain America, and an American flag. In 2012 balaclavas like the members of Pussy Riot wore were painted on the figures and, in separate incidents, Guy Fawkes “Anonymous” masks and ski masks were placed over the soldiers’ faces. Last August the monument was painted pink with apologies in Bulgarian and Czech for Bulgarian participation in the suppression of the Prague Spring uprising in Czechoslovakia in 1968. Pink was the chosen color in a tribute to Czech prankster and artist David Cerny, who painted a Soviet war memorial in central Prague (Monument of Soviet Tank Crews) pink in 1991. When Cerny was arrested, supporters repainted the tank pink. Similar defacement of Soviet monuments have taken place in Estonia and Romania.
 
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Cerny is also known for floating a boat on the Vltava River containing an enormous purple hand flipping the bird at the Czech government building last fall.

People who object to this sort of behavior have asked that the Bulgarian memorial be moved to the fairly new and apparently disappointing Museum of Socialist Art. The monument’s most hostile critics think it should have been destroyed after the fall of the Soviet Union, so it’s probably fair game as a focal point for political and cultural protests by activists and general mischief.
 

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Discussion
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