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Archive
February, 2013 Monthly archive
Abraham Lincoln

Alexander Gardner/ Sanna Dullaway, Abraham Lincoln, 1865/ 2012

Whenever someone famous dies, the Polish media illustrate the news with a black and white picture. I’d like it to be the result of the cultural connectedness of the two colours to death, but it is more likely only a result of identifying black and white photographs with the past tense. In Roland Topor’s La Princesse Angine the protagonists do not die, they only move from the present to the past tense. In the media the famous do not die either, but merely pass from colour to black and white. Someone in a black and white picture is someone form the past. That is why so many people find the colour photographs from the Second World War so eerie.

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Richard Avedon, The Duke and Duchess of Windsor,

Richard Avedon, The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, 1957

In 1936 he abdicated the British throne for her. It is April 1957, almost 20 years later. Richard Avedon photographs the couple in their New York suite in the Waldorf Astoria. The famous photo shows two sad bitter people. Nothing could be further from the truth. Both are proficient in being photographed. During the shoot they smile, they want to appear satisfied with life. That’s how they want to be seen, but the photographer has other plans. He knows they adore dogs, so he tells them, that his taxi has run over a dog. The couple’s mask drops and Avedon quickly takes a photo. Years later he recalls in the movie Darkness and Light:

The expression on their faces is true, because you can’t evoke an expression that doesn’t come out of the life of a person. (…) There are times when it is necessary to trick a sitter into what you want. But never for the sake of the trick!

Oh, really?

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