Many American photographers I’ve met credit the work of Diane Arbus as their inspiration to pursue Photography. Their personal forays into fashion, fine art, landscapes and other specialties in turn inspire others to capture moments of beauty or the grotesque as she did.
I considered the idea of taking photographs for years and I still can’t decide if I have a story interesting enough to tell others or to use my life as a splendid compendium of experiences to help people find their way through it all. Writing in my diary filled me with joy and pain as a boy, as it does today.
After a wonderful afternoon spent at the Metropolitan Museum of Art I walked aimlessly for a few blocks and on a whim I decided to purchase three photography books from a glitzy book store on Fifth Avenue. The work of three artists was mine: Cindy Sherman’s Untitled Film Stills, Nan Goldin’s The Ballad of Sexual Dependency and Diane Arbus’s An Aperture Monograph by her daughter Doon Arbus and Marvin Israel. I couldn’t wait to get home to open them and experience what I had felt during exhibitions presented at various galleries I visited, so I sat down on one of the store’s couches and allowed their visions to kidnap my mind. The mundane, the beautiful, the lost; humanity at its least and most self-aware, the diseased… involuntary tears of gratitude fell from my eyes onto my hands, but I saw hope clearly, marvellously shown by people who chose to live with their conditions and their looks, their challenges and joys. How shockingly beautiful to see and all I felt from them! How moving they were to me!
A strong desire to leave took over and I walked out into the streets. I followed every building with my mind, experiencing everything as I came across tourist shop owners serving their customers, delis and people looking at goods and strangers crossing the streets. I felt naked under my clothes and outside my flat I was one with the city for a moment.
It was only when I took the subway to the East Village that I felt myself again. A brief melancholy took me by surprise and I thought of what I was at that moment: A man from a broken home with a broken marriage, a past of opportunities lost and found; just a broken man with a dream and three photography books, going home at the end of the day. Tomorrow I will have another chance to win.
Text: © Lucius Bod, February 2010
Image: Diane Arbus, Woman With A Veil on 5th Avenue NYC, 1968. © The Estate of Diane Arbus