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Does art imitate life, or is it the other way around? In Spike Lee’s legendary 1989 film Do the Right Thing, one of the lead characters, Radio Raheem, suffocates to death when a cop places him in a chokehold. It’s a vivid, chilling scene — and it played out in real life this week when NYPD officers killed a 43-year-old man named Eric Garner, who was asthmatic, by placing him in a chokehold.
Finding Vivian Maier, the documentary about the nanny who’s gained incredible posthumous fame for her previously unseen work as a photographer, was released this past weekend in the UK. But in addition to garnering reviews, it’s also bringing a longstanding but little-covered conflict over Maier’s work and archive to light. The film’s release has “fuelled a row between the men whose accidental discovery of her work … led to Maier belatedly coming to the world’s attention and garnering a posthumous reputation on a par with Henri Cartier-Bresson,” the Independent reported.
ca. 1850, [daguerreotype portrait of an eagle]
Photography’s initial accomplishment was to allow for the instantaneous transformation of a four-dimensional object or event into a static, two-dimensional representation. However, in the catalogue for the 1970 exhibition Photography into Sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art, Peter C. Burnell — the museum’s then curator of photography — insisted that the medium could be pushed to even greater creative possibilities:
Censorship and the Female Body