"A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you, the less you know."I was introduced to the work of Diana Arbus years ago by my rock photographer friend, Panny, who was much influenced by Arbus, and like her worked with a Rolliflex in grainy black and white. When I stayed with Panny my eyes ached from seeing so much - I went out on shoots with her and to exhibitions and we poured over her art books together. Panny had a couple of books of Arbus' photographs and I've carried many of the images in my head for a good quarter of a century.
I saw many of those images again at the retrospective of Arbus' work, Revelations, at the V&A Museum, this week. Her miracle was to take the everyday, the conventional, and transform it. Her subjects reveal their inner lives to the camera, invariably exuding quiet despair whether fashionable New Yorkers snapped on the streets, circus freaks, mental patients, or nudists. She was truly an artist who chose photography as her medium.
The exhibition included many personal artifacts including Arbus' tiny, spiral bound notebooks in which she recorded her life in tiny crabbed writing. I would have loved to have stayed and read much more.
Wish I could have bought the book of the exhibition too, but at 40 quid ... will have to wait for more solvent times.