Sunday, January 27, 2013

wheels within wheels

They were power-hosing the courtyard of the Tutor Campus Center today, where we were having our annual Graduate Student symposium in Art History - a day of excellent papers culminating in Alexander Nemerov talking about Margaret Bourke-White.  I think he made her sound like a much more generous and feisty personality than I'd always thought of her as being - ok, maybe feisty, but she always seemed to irritate the hell out of a lot of people.  On the other hand, Nemerov made a great case (in Q&A) for the heroism of the governess in The Turn of the Screw - an argument that made a whole lot of sense (she maintains unswervingly a belief in what no one else will) - so I came to think that he enjoys pushing a willfully perverse line.  Certainly (and non-perversely) he offered up a very good case for the way in which she completely reworked the pictorialist circle that she found in Clarence White, so this image (inadvertently - I'd already taken it) is very much in that spirit, in the course of arguing that there is a kind of wildness in her images, a desire to show the world as somehow escaping her - or herself cutting free from the world.  And he told a great story about her letting off a flash bulb in a bombing hold full of bombs ...

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