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“The True Meaning of Pictures” (4)

Without exception, my workshop participants at the Penland School of Crafts experienced a profound disconnect between Shelby Lee Adams’s verbal contextualization of his pictures — fairly close to his commentary on them in the Baichwal film and elsewhere — and the photographs themselves. […]

“The True Meaning of Pictures” (3)

About my “belittling,” “infuriating,” and “ignorant” comments on Shelby Lee Adams’s work: These come from about 3 minutes’ worth of film clips in Jennifer Baichwal’s documentary, “The True Meaning of Pictures.” Those clips were extracted from several hours’ worth of interview. Inevitably, much context gets lost in the editing process. Doesn’t mean I don’t stand by what I said — just that these snippets oversimplify what I said. That’s inevitable in such a film, and nothing for which I fault Baichwal. […]

“The True Meaning of Pictures” (2)

In the adult world where, since 1967, I’ve done my professional work as a critic and cultural journalist — a universe separate from yet parallel to that inhabited by bloggers like Ferdinand, and connected by unpredictable wormholes — you don’t get to publish a fabricated quote at your blog and then, when caught at it and called on it, apologize privately in an email. Concocting a fake quote constitutes a punishable offense; in my world, people lose their jobs over such unethical behavior. […]

“The True Meaning of Pictures” (1)

There is to me a curious tension in Shelby Lee Adams’s project between his commitment and feeling that he comes out of this place, he’s representing this place, he loves these people, etc. ― which I don’t doubt for a minute ― and the fact that the cumulative picture often shows me people who I really wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley at night. […]

Tim Hetherington, 1970-2011: A Farewell (1)

What I find hard to bear about Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger’s Afghan War film “Restrepo” is the utter pointlessness of what these young men were asked to do (and did), the squandering of their time and in some cases their very lives, the traumatic situation into which the military thrust them and whose psychic consequences they will bear for the rest of their days. They need make no apologies for their behavior, individually or collectively. But what has been done to them, and what they were asked to do, I consider unforgivable. […]