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Diane Arbus: In The Beginning

Emily Allen

Commercial photographer turned artist, Dianne Arbus, strived in capturing moments and places that comprise New York City life. The show highlights the first seven years of her career (1956-1962). The exhibition itself, is neither organized sequentially nor thematically which allows the viewer to freely travel through the various stages of Arbus’ career. In this sense, the show is conceived to have neither a start, middle, or end. More than 100 small, intimate, and truly authentic documentary style photographs are presented on their own walls, standing as individuals themselves. Arbus’ fascination with the differences between all things and all people truly comes through in the photographs of individuals who are extracted from their environment, frozen in a moment in time, and yet seem to come alive in front of the viewer. 

As the show’s exhibition label describes it, “the exchange of both sides of the camera — of seeing and being seen — raises existential questions in the subject, questions that ultimately transmit themselves to the viewer.” This holds true in many ways. Arbus strived for a relationship with her subjects and by extension, us viewers also become her subjects keeping the pictures alive. As one travels across the gallery and in between pillars, the viewers become an uncanny double of the individuals who reside in the frames on the walls. 

The show, curated by Jeff L. Rosenheim, will run from July 12th to November 27th 2016 at the Met Breuer.

By Sidney Bitter-Larkin

Photos courtesy of Sidney Bitter-Larkin