Thursday, February 24, 2011

True lies

This pasted up image currently on a wall in Wellington stands out from the street art crowd. Based on that well known Diane Arbus photograph of a young boy holding a toy hand grenade in Central Park, it brought back memories of the huge fuss the Diane Arbus exhibition caused when it was shown at the Dowse Art Gallery in 1979. 

Lower Hutt City Councillor Ernie Barry threatened to close the show down and was almost single-handedly responsible for an unprecedented 30,000 plus people coming to see what the problem was. Strangely the show acted like some psychological mirror with many people finding their own demons reflected in the work. One person might strongly support showing images of disabled kids but be appalled at showing fat people, while another might take the completely opposite line. 

The graphic in Cuba Street also reminded us how carefully Diane Arbus considered her proof sheets and made the choices from amongst the images she shot of any one subject. You can see more examples of Arbus’s selection process in the extraordinary book Diane Arbus: Revelations published by Random House.

Images: Top, Arbus mash-up in Wellington. Bottom, selection of images from Diane Arbus's proof sheet with her final choice top left. Click on image to enlarge.