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We snap a selfie with the tap of a finger. We're used to preserving smiling moments. At the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, there's an exhibit right now which goes to darker places with a camera. The images in "Real Worlds" are from three major photographers, taken over half a century.
There's Diane Arbus, American, who said in the s, "I really believe there are things nobody would see if I didn't photograph them. All three picture-takers are revolutionary: They photographed, with profound intimacy, the undersides of life. Their images are stunning, sometimes shocking, often provocative. Black and white people smoke together, sip Perrier or stronger stuff, dance.
And there's an intriguing woman on the left. It's taken in It didn't happen that much in — people roaming around, unannounced, taking your picture. What might she have been thinking? We were used to having our pictures taken by the s. But Arbus' focus was new. In black and white, she documented people on the fringes. Giants, bearded ladies, people with mental disabilities or those who may have been institutionalized. In Tattersall's words: "people whose bodies or sexual identities didn't conform with kind of mainstream narrative of what it was to be an American.
Arbus was accused of voyeurism, of going after what were then called freak shows. But Tattersall, the MOCA curator, says Arbus forged relationships with her subjects, and that there's empathy in the pictures. There's a remarkable photo Arbus called "Transvestite at her birthday party.
It might just be a two-person birthday party. It might just be Arbus and this one woman. They're having a fabulous time. Transgender people also intrigue photographer Nan Goldin. Twenty years after Arbus, Goldin photographs them — as well as gays and lesbians.