Kalimac Crafts (and assorted other bits and bobs)

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Diane Arbus

I've become semi-, gloriously obsessed with the following photo:

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A young man with curlers at home on West 20th Street, N.Y.C.

I'm drawn in by all of Arbus' photos, and the controversy around them - how she was impersonal, uncaring, rather unethical. How she didn't show humanity, and posed her subjects to look as ugly as possible.

And yet I can't stop staring at this picture. I can't find anything about the young man in it- not unusual, as Arbus never recorded her subjects' names, or seemed to care. But the look in his eyes is fascinating. He looks run-down; the drag queen before her show, tweaked and exhausted at the same time. Stories begin to come to me - he spent his summers on Fire Island, when it was a land of myth. He is probably dead now, gone in the early waves of the AIDS epidemic. It is entirely possible, of course, he's got a house in the Hamptons with his partner, but....he looks so run-down, so decrepit and sad. He is the one to live fast and die young. I feel like, if I just reached a little further, I could touch the dark, dingy apartment on West 20th St in sixties New York, and everything would come clear. He's a mix of a world that no long exists but in Dancer From The Dance (which I must reread soon...) and Young Man From the Provinces (do I still own that?) and memory and....I can't help but feel it's just at my fingertips.

(If anyone does have any information on who the model was and what happened to him, I would love to know - thank you!)


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