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17 January 2011

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Often times, if one looks hard and long enough, there's always one, sometimes two, that somehow manage to fall through (more like rise above) the cracks and offer a glimpse of what lies behind the denial and deception.

African Proverb- The foreigner sees only what he knows.

how very interesting John.

You don't happen to know of an equivalent of you who takes an interest in Roma history and visual (photographic) representation, both historical and contemporary, do you? I'm doing a research module for my MA...it's a bit of a slog at this point. Just asking on the off-chance - I don't really expect you to know anyone.

@Ciara

Very glad you liked the post. The first time I saw "young Xosa woman," it stopped me dead in my tracks. I knew that I'd write about it some day. Stan provided the occasion.

I don't know of anyone working on Roma history and representation, but someone (probably someones) must be doing it. I'll ask around. If I come up with anything, I'll send you a note.

"The honesty of art will always out." - no matter what the conscious agenda is, if there's even a modicum of art in the photographer's soul,it will occasionally pop to the surface.

This puts me in mind of some of the photographs of Constance Larabbee that you've featured in your blog as another case where the artist in the photographer seems to occasionally subvert the photographer's intention.

thank you :)

Manet's work is the obvious follow-up to Goya's _Maja desnuda_, also glaring directly at the onlooker. But it is not the only case; Ingres' _Grande Odalisque_ also looks at the visitor. The meaning -- defiant, ironic, inviting -- of this smile is entirely in the eye of the spectator, often influenced by the critics whom one may have known the opinion of beforehand. Voiced opinions rarely reflect feelings deeply felt; they're conditioned by their social context.

That Barnett pastiched Manet by photographing the _Amakosa girl_ in this strange and unconfortable position is quite probable; what was in his mind, as he set this fake "savage" surroundings sprawling his studio's floor with hay and gathering a pot, a gourd and a calabash pan in front of the cloth backdrop, is out of reach. What is certain is that once one comes to this conclusion, one cannot look at this photograph as an ethnographic document.

Any art gesture, nay, any public gesture, may be commented in either a laudative or deprecative way. It is a useful mind exercise to imagine, not one comment, but as many as possible, stemming from the moral values current in the represented person's society, the artist's, and the viewer.

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