Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Marti Friedlander 1928-2016

It was a shock to hear that Marti Friedlander has died aged 88. It was a shock not just because such an important contributor to our visual culture has gone, but to see her age on the screen. Anyone who knew her automatically had her age wiped clean by the force of energy that was Marti. So curious, so hospitable, so engaged with the now. Our first meeting was at publisher Alister Taylor’s house in Martinborough. Alister had suggested to Marti that he should publish the photographs she had been taking of artists in their studios. We’re not sure how we lucked into it as a project, but we became the writers and for two years we followed in Marti’s tracks and interviewed the artists she had recorded. On a couple of occasions we even got to see her at work: all waving arms, insistent charm and that gravelly laughter that put people at ease as she snuck in her shots.  If there was one word you could pin to Marti it was irrepressible and when you put a camera in the hands of irrepressible you get the shots others miss as they pack up their gear. Turning the pages of Contemporary New Zealand painters, the book we worked on together, you can see in every image Marti’s utter conviction about the place of artists. She thought they were cultural heroes. Takes one to know one.

Image: Marti's portrait of Allen Maddox in Contemporary New Zealand painters. Allen refused to let us publish our piece on him so Marti's photos were his only record in the book.