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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  November 22, 2009 1:00am-2:00am EST

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actually dealing with. then you can control compensation which is created out of the bonuses that come from those profits because your subduing the rest in the system menez bankers won't make as much money but that is okay. host: we are running out of time but the main point you have made today, along with many good important points, is that we can look at wall street as something separate from the middle class and working families of this country that we can continue with the process for these guys live in their own world, do not invest in anything of productive value while the middle class continues to shrink and unemployment goes up. they have got to play a different kind of a world. >> guest: exactly and meekham make it up to them. president obama's talking about raising small business loan caps and that is good but at the bank to want to extend loans it doesn't matter if the caps are higher so there has to be an attachment for calvinists to be an actual legislative attachment to making this bab roker.
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>> on that note, let me thank nomi prins for being with us. the book is an excellent book and i can't think of a subject matter which is more important for is to be engaged in. nomi, thank you very much. >> guest: thank you very much.
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the history professor linda gordon merkel degree to photographer dorthea lange. it is about an hour. >> this book was my first biography and i think it will be my last. biographies are too hard to write i am actually a social political historian masquerading as a biographer and i have learned that my book belongs to a category called the lightman category of biography. in fact when i began i felt the times were dominating, that the book which focus on the political and social culture of the depression, of world war ii, of the cold war and the life
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would be mere illustration. that was not to be. all of that history is in the book but dorthea lange is the star of the history. with their forceful personality she moved into the driver's seat and in a certain sense to charge, although i spend a lot of time arguing with her back and forth over quite a number of years. of course you didn't write the buck. a biography is always got to be one life seen through another life, in this case mine. although i had written a great deal about gender, this biography force me to examine more closely how gendered works in the life of an individual. and, this lecture for which i am really grateful for a number of reasons forced me to look back and try to spell out what i was doing and let me warn you or tell you that what i'm about to
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say is not in the book at all. this is kind of a meditation after the fact about the book. now, thinking about gender was particularly complex because it was writing about an artist and because an artist's work louis after her, and it was produced in one context but it takes on new meanings in whatever context people then see it later. no matter how stringently we try to exclude contemporary meetings, they can truett calamas though in thinking about this as well as in writing the book i had to retain a kind of awareness about the past, about the period in which dorthea lange lit damaso about the present. i make these observations about gender again lange's will. she was no feminist and she did not want to have her work discussed and gender categories.
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she wanted to be a great photographer. she did not want to be a great woman photographer but historian should not necessarily try to please their subjects. so, i am doing it anyway. let me start-- there are certain levels to what i'm going to talk about. i'm going to but talk about the social and political and then i'm going to talk about what is in the photographs as we see them today but i'm going to start with the personal. she was a middle class style and born in hoboken in 1895, very plus of middle-class life until to traumas hit africa when she was seven she holyoke. when she was 12 for parents separated. the physical experience of the polio was certainly painful and terrifying in she merge with a permanent small disability, and-- but she was deeply upset by her father's departure from the household. but the biggest blow i thank for
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how these blows were assimilated and understood by the young dorothy and in this regard her mother's incrementalist keyport gober mother was embarrassed by dorothea's disfigured foot and lower leg and by her limp and urged her always to try to disguise them as much as possible. in this way even her polio experience was gendered because the mother had such anxiety about what her body would look like. when skirts that shorter, dorthea lange began to wear slacks which was quite unusual and not at all fashionable at the time. she never again wore a skirt that was less than floor length. as an adult photographer, lange made many, many images of feet and legs, and with your typical magic could make photographs of just feet enormously expressive. her mother also presented the
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marital separation to her as a desertion, and abandonment by their father although i learned that in fact it was actually more mutual and more ambiguous. i won't go into that story. that is in the book but the point is that dorothea felt abandoned because that was our mother felker toshi develop such a rage against their father that when she arrived in san francisco in 1918, and where she was to spend the rest of her life, she adopted her mother's maiden name which was lange and she never mentioned her father or his name to anyone, including her two husbands, her children and best friends. so, lange's experience of these childhood blows the developed along with her gender identity. she was born with an assertive temperament. in other grammatic use similar experiences quite differently.
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from age 12, she developed the practice of wandering alone the streets of new york, first the lower east side and in the upper west side where she attended high school and ultimately the entire island of manhattan. she was extraordinarily strong. this walker and the city was also a self-taught. she was a mediocre student in school. she did not attend the university but she discovered on her own the modernist art that was blossoming in new york. she taught herself photography by taking jobs. burford job was as a person and one of those jane of portrait studios where she made cold calls to people, trying to sell them portraits and worked as a receptionist at various photographies studios in basically gained on her own these photographic skills. one of the people she worked for
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was a very avid photographer, also a german-american and she thought she was very talented and gave rick castoff camera. [inaudible] i figure she might be anywhere between eight intent in that picture. she moved to san francisco in 1918 and opened a photographer eric studio in an upscale application. within two years she had become the portrait photographer for san francisco's wealthy art patrons. this hi villosity success derive the thing from the conjunction of for charismatic personality and a kind of modernist visual sophistication. at first, she used as you see here at the top picture, the
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romantic, misty pictorial style that dominated in the 1920's, but she soon began to modernize these pictorial conventions. incidently those who know anything about san francisco can history, the man at the bottom is one of the most powerful man of his times. she attracted the lead clients with a slightly bohemian elegance and her persona, in their studios ambiance and in her photographs. she never used the painted backgrounds that were common at the time. she never used propst for toshi discouraged formal poses. she did not even asker subject his smile. she used dramatic shadows and unusual angles and created motion and sometimes mystery by hiring-- hiding, excuse me part of her subject. in short her success derive from our sensitivity from class taste
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of the client. her work represented in many ways individualism it import-- portrait sure. she use what you learn to suggest or she would say we feel individuality in a deep inner life. sheahan dugger subjects with inferiority to use the word. her clients believe that she had the power to capture their essences. they felt that their education, their cultural insensitivity just shown out from the images that she made. as she had begun to do in new york, in san francisco she integrated yourself into a bodine neme arts crowd and made her photography studio into a meeting place of artists and a more liberal wing of the city's wealthy arts patrons. by 1920, a year-and-a-half after she wrote right there she
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married the city's most desirable batchelor artist, maynard dixon, and maynard dixon was like much more famous than she was. he was what was called the western painter and had many fans. his pictures could sell for up to $1 million. dixon dressed in black with cowboy boots and hats, cut a dashing in magnetic figure at the center of the bohemian craddock artists. this mall come olimpian photographic businesswoman had hoped the sexiest man in san francisco's bodine yep. during this marriage lange supported herself but in patterns unusual or perhaps not so unusual among women married to artists. she was not only the exclusive housekeeper and parents, she not only put up with maynor's womanizing and months long absence on painting trips but
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she was also the main breadwinner for the family. in one sense, the depression forced lange out of the studio and onto the streets in the sense that her clientele shrank in schiatica time on her hands. she was also chafing in the con fines of first video and her marriage in the true views in her mind. she felt compelled to take a camera into the streets. she was accustomed only to work for hire and defer she felt worried about invading the privacy of street people or even hostility. the she was gratified when she found that often they did not notice search. later she would understand that she had a method for making people not notice are. she said about her early work in the streets, i can only say i knew i was looking at something. sometimes you have an inner sense that you have, that you
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are not taking anything away from anyone, their privacy, their dignity or their whole list. on such self reassurance, her whole future rested. documentary photography then connected her to an extraordinary band of the camera second husband and partner in work for the rest of her life. paul taylor a progressive agricultural economist that taught uc-berkeley you educated her about class and race sexploitation and brought her into the extraordinary photographic project for the new deal farm secure the administration. there has been nothing like its sense to were great loss. for six years a small and amazingly hard-working group of about a dozen photographers made several hundred thousand photographs of american rural life. the project was initiated to create propaganda for roosevelt's new deal but expanded to create a democratic
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picture of the rural united states, one that emphasized particularly those who did the work of farming rather than the owners of the great plantations of mississippi and california. there are several paradoxes in lange's like including the fact that this quintessential city girl ended up working for the department of agriculture, never even having visited a farm when she was tired, but my favorite of the paradoxes is the way it turns around a typical story of women's emancipation and the usual story, you start with a woman who is a dependent on her husband and you gradually works are way into perhaps getting a profession, getting a job and having an income of for own feeling independent. lange mir bursted. she got the opportunity to become a great photographer when she married her second husband
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it would support her on his academic salary from the university of california and released her from the responsibility of earning for her whole family and it was a large family because, when we put the two families together she had two children never own and four stepchildren. with okay, now, i said i was going to talk first about the personal and then about the social history but historians must know it is impossible to separate the personal from the social historical, but some episodes are more constrained by the social than others and i want to illustrate by sketching out one accounts of lange's aspect of bearlike and that is her mother. when she married maynor dixon she inherited a tenure world stepdaughter. the girl was furious that
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dorothea from the start. she had lost curser mentally ill alcoholic mother and then she had been for a time her father's only love. meiners, instead of providing reassurance to constance when he decided to marry again, he immediately turned over, turned her over to dorothy apostle church in quickly after the marriage resumed his old pattern of taking long trips into the desert to paint. dorothea was flying high with her studio practice, and did not want to be stockett home well maynard and his friends socialized in italian restaurants bushey at our own resentments of this dependent who was suddenly thrust upon her. for whatever their reasons were she was unable to mother this unhappy girl, and they had a terribly, terribly angry and violent relationship.
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lange's life were harder still when the two sons were born. sorry, that comes later but you can watch it now. maynor turned over the two boys entirely to dude dorothy and took no responsibility for them. by 1932 and the marriage was beginning to erode in the boys were just seven in four years old dorothea and maynard made the first of many decisions to place their children in foster care. her divorce, remarriage and the farm security job confirm the practice them between 1932 and 1940, all these children, all six of them, to end the force that children were in paid foster care placement for parts of most years, from a couple of weeks to three or four months at a time. deanne dixon, the oldest son, recalled his feelings to me when i interviewed him about how we
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felt when his mother and father would come to visit and i quote pn dixon. i remember standing outside of the place we live waiting and waiting for that black model a to appear and win the day was over, i will remember watching it go, weeping and weeping as the red taillights receded. in writing about lange i had to reckon with this pain. i have discussed it with many, many friends and not a single one of them who is a parent can imagine doing such a thing. as an historian i am obliged to put her son's resentment and recollected sadness into the context of the 1930's and its standards about mother child bonding. employed mothers then frequently self childcare problems by turning to relatives, neighbors, foster parents and institutions in that order. poor mothers often place their children in orphanages
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temporarily or in foster homes, those who could afford to pay. the writs sent their children of course to boarding school and often did this starting at young ages or they have full-time live-in nannies. although it remained were in the 1930's and for the more full-time daycare at that time carry the stigma of a charity and was characterized by overcrowding, by region discipline them for hygiene. for the more the child development experts at the time held that foster care was superior choice and the daycare center they reasoned as an orphanage, jobim would be cared for by strangers who were responsible for groups of children. in foster care, children would have a mother and the family, possibly even a father. ironically the child development wisdom of the time also assume this somewhat contradictory premise that separations and
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shifting caretakers were not in that effort of politraumatic for children so long as their fundamental physical needs grumet. although many experts today consider children's emotional and developmental need for bonding a timeless and irreducible fact of human nature, that is simply not a childcare-- what childhood-- childhood experts thought in the 1950's. she said and develop the first symptoms of the severe olsson's that would cause her so much pain in her later years and ultimately lead to her death, but let us look at this a little more closely. her children also maynard path and he did not share any of these feelings of guilt. after the divorce he visited them rarely and not one bit of responsibility not even financial responsibility. they were entirely supported by
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lange ander new husband, paul taylor. justice striking paul taylor had three children and he also handed them over to dorothea anthologist fine to place them in foster care. yet, none of these children, and i talk to all of those who were alive, none of them blamed their fathers at all. this is however entirely understandable. in 1935 few people thought fathers had caretaking responsibilities for children. but, i want to say that lange's gil from placing the children derives not just from feeling like a bad mother, but also from something even more unspeakable to her, and that was the mission. most unwomanly of drived. when she was offered the job of farms security she did not hesitate for a moment, although she knew it would mean not seen your children for months at a time.
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she knew she was a bad mother, but her ambition in some ways hid itself not only from others but from her grave for idf identities and consciousnesses through which she disguised it until well after world war ii. she never admitted to a desire to be an artist. she considered herself a tradesmen, to use her word. studio photography often function as a camouflage for ambition because it allowed women to work get home and allowed them to trivialize the significance of their work. lange's cheat defense against recognizing her own ambition took the form of experiencing hard drive as if it came from somewhere else, from a force beyond her control. she often spoke of herself in the passive. she called herself a channel, a cipher, a person that can be used for lots of things. the zero quotes from dorothy
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supper kober denial extended to the way she discussed placing out her children as if she had no responsibility for making it happen and they quote from herk, if the boys hadn't been taken from me by circumstances she wrote. and get, what she faced the daunting gender norms of part-timers she not only charge that had made herself the second marriage with the husband from heaven. if you will excuse my technical language. paul taylor the professor exhibited only pride and encouragement for her ambition, never for a moment thought she should stay home in mind the children. he absolutely thought she was a genius and he adored her for it. another unique spin on the story of women's emancipation, find the right has been. now a few words about the politics of gender in the federal government in general and in lange's job and the
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struggles of the period. these are images of two new deal murals and i chose them because they are typical. i think they reflect visually what i'm about to say about policy, which is that virtually every new deal program rested on conservative assumptions about gender. even the emergency relief programs either extort and women are excluded them from public jobs and consign them to purely relief payments, or if they did give them jobs they limited them to make work jobs such as selling mattresses in federal sweatshops ago the big reform programs, social security, the wagner labor relations act, the fair labor standards act excluded from coverage almost all men of color and women of all races.
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lange's employer was one of the most discriminatory federal agencies. it was at the time the biggest operation of the federal government, bigger even than the defense department, then called the war department. its definition of this constituency rest of on gender, racial and class assumptions. it considered farm women not as farmers but is farmers' wives. ignored farmworkers and serve the interests of large growers. within the department agriculture this farms security agency that lange worked for constituted an enclave of progressives and radicals who sought to help the needs of small family farmers, tenant farmers and sharecroppers and migrant farmworkers, the group's most devastated by the depression and not surprisingly the fsa, farms security was under constant attack not only from congress but also from the more powerful men in the department agriculture.
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as the only female photographer, until marion posed walcott was hired by the project in its very last years, lange's salary was lower than that of far less experienced men. on the job she was caught in a double bind. she was on the one hand treated discriminatory lia finkelman but on the other hand she was expected to work like a man. that is the man who had a wife. for example, all the other fsa photographers who were on the road for months at a time to their wives and occasionally their girlfriends a long as the unpaid assistance on the road. lange who needed the help most the point out, hired the son of a friend who became insanely great photographer himself and paid him out of for own pocket and out of karen $3 a day allotment. through paul taylor lange,
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notably the san francisco longshoremen in general strike of 1934 but also the great agricultural strikes of california's central and imperial valley's, scenes of extreme violence. i think a lot of people who may remember from our own lifetimes the struggle that ended with the creation of the united farmworkers, we forget our not realize that there were many field struggles in the 1920's and 30's of migrant farmworkers to unionize. in several cases the big growers arrange to get hundreds of their men deputized by county sheriffs, so is to be able to beat up strikers, educators and even journalists in federal mediators. there were killings. growers build private stockades in which they locked up their opponents, without charges.
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lange drived several times to photograph these strikes and always failed. heard this ability meant that she could not move quickly especially when burdened with heavy cameras and they show these because i want to remind you what the cameras looked like. she never used a 35 mm cameras. she used these very large and heavy cameras and whenever possible use the tripod. she had a lot to lug around. photojournalist robert pappas said famously if your pictures are not good enough you are not close enough. lange could not get close enough and none of her pictures of these strikes and other similar complex turned out well. i think this failure had a lot to do with gender as well as with disability. the beilin esterified lange hinchey with true. the labor movement's of the 1930's often assumed very macho tactics, discourses and
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strategies. uninterested in organizing women, the cio organizing committees insulated themselves from the alternative organizing strategies that women sometimes brought to the floor. while the class violence of the 1930's was almost exclusively employer generated, it nevertheless had the effect of excluding women. however timid she might have been physically in mind and spirit lange was extraordinarily brave. she the fight that only gender but also racial conventions as evidence in photography of her-- people of color. ..
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>> and they distributed what they considered the acceptable to the mainstream. a few years later, when she tried to do something she could control not only the u.s. government under public opinion but to the organized left which too many beaumont in the risky opposition to the internment of japanese-americans which i don't have time to go into but i will let you know, if you are interested a few years back she put out a collection of her photographs and entitled impounded. because it spoke about impounded people but also about the fact that her
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photographs were compounded by the u.s. army. now turning to the photography itself, at the outset comment the assignment was to illustrate american agriculture and the conditions and to make pictures of falling apart barnes, so will erosion, dust bowl and a new and old farming methods. lang would influence the whole project legacy through the use of portraiture which is what she did a and oliver photography was worker for charter free. in part, she took the same camera that she turned on the rich and directed it toward the poor. and she individualized your subjects and making interesting or memorable to the viewer as she
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illustrated the depression predicament. instead of the blank background in the studio she produced images of individuals in their social context. this is much of the secret of the popularity of the images that they should not masses but individuals, not generalizations but particular stories. and in doing this she was feminizing left field. just to show you a couple of examples of earlier documentary photography, this is a lot lewis hine photograph it shows either context or faces but rarely both. the tone of walker evans was cool in comparison to the emotional heat and seductiveness of lang. the people are usually photographed in mobile and sometimes dignified but
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never expressive. evince coolness was an engendered matter. he had a favorite place and referred to for autographing babies as a synonym for selling out artistic integrity. lang wanted personality, activity and emotion in her photographs. there are no lang photographs, no doubt she may have passed over some subjects but more importantly, she made her subjects lovely and if we have time i can talk to you about how she did that. the understanding of portraiture she took from the studio rich in her words was a portrait is a collaboration between a photographer and a subject and therefore as a result
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subjects had a perfect right to expect flattering images of themselves. she applied the same principle to the people she photographed. this departure from object of the it a contested concept could also re-read as gender demanded derive from the stereotypical female approach a reporter for charter free as a personal service. not so distant out that time it was considered closely related to interior decoration or fashion and make up consultation and photography. place in the documentary at the center was a male as well as the malpractice and parallel to hurt husbands'
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social science. the strong sense of responsibility, not just to document but to correct the injustices and suffering scholarship had uncovered and in the progress of area and was now reinvigorated during the depression. i have said there are ways in which the style is quintessentially for them and then against productive analysis of her work for crow critics to played some of the worst cliches reading of the strong emotional content as intuitive in a way characteristic of women. here are some quotes. >> she lived instinctively but photographed spontaneously. >> lang the making of a
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great perfect anonymous image is a trick of grace of which she can do little besides making herself available for the trick of grace. said another describe her as a piece of white voters sensitive paper, or like an unexposed film onto which white and shadow marked impression is. >> my point* is not to deny the engendered aspects of her work but challenge categorizing it as instinctive. far from a passive receptor she was an assertive intellectual and disciplined and self-conscious fifth working systematically to develop a photography that could be maximally communicative been reviewing. here years in the studio gave the finest control supply chain, positioning chain, positioning, kaman angles, speed and aperture and timing.
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i just want to give you a little example one famous mother was the product of taking six or seven experts photographs of the same group of people working her way toward the ones they liked best and that does not talk about the exposures she would have run away. she carefully planned every photograph often a dozen exposures of a single scene and unanimously their markdown house low she was in the tempo was over the term and buy her disability, her large keira's and the need that there were no way to meters yet. many expert at photographers appear to work instinctively
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because they operate very quickly as a result of years of practice. this she began working with paul taylor she read extensively in economics and sociology and listen to his explanation before picking up the camera. the every exposure not to mention her every maneuver in the dark room was a result of study and practice. it is true sometimes lang characterized her working style as instinctive but she was wrong. many experience perception in this way. and in performing an exaggerated intuitive ness manifesting heard guilt and fear of ambition and mastery. and far more important than what she said is what the photographs show. and as a formidable expert
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has shown, her for target repeatedly displayed a trance aggressiveness toward gender norms although it seems that lang herself may not have recognized it. the popular culture of the new deal plan talks about the assumptions strengthen the male breadwinner family broke while the eighth days artistic icons have helped birth mothers lang visualize driven as independent and often conflicted. this is a photograph from the ship building planted richman california. the depression is sharply etched often thin and delicate but tough. the work shows women of hard
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labor in the field as often as men. her zero subject matter was partly what was responsible because of the sectional division of label was less common among farm working people. it was very common for women to work in the fields broke with many are farmers as well as farmers' wives. quintessentially a photograph did not show rural women as wires but proletarian spread of this applies not only to women working in the field but also domestic labor. and often searing photographs of the living conditions of farm workers, she showed how women struggled even while camped in the field to create a semblance of order. this is my favorite of a
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shaun of that lang did a lot although not well known, it is a still life of the makeshift kitchen that a woman of a migrant worker has created where she lives is literally nothing but they can mess -- can this mean to supported by a couple of steaks. it is an extraordinary photograph because if you look closely there's a tremendous amount of information about what people 80 and what they own or how they manage. am pointing out how women tried to create kitchens and bedrooms cooked and bathe the children and washing clothes haven't been tense or cars or without water or furniture or heat. they do nothing less than create civilization out of wilderness. in her words comity 10
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articulated conventional gender ideas and often talk drop how women had unique functions for which there were tested and unique ways. but wayne dean through her maternal photographs there is always say subversive dimension. she made many madonna's. this is one of them's. but interestingly enough she almost never photograph whole nuclear family units they are mostly fatherless. mother and child form the central couple. might also point* out calling a madonna a motif in the vernacular chris gin coulter but her madonna's are startling. eight as sometimes heroic
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from the man who can do everything in and they will survive and defend their children. >> fragile and soft as this nursing mother may be, there is no mistaking this deal the determination and her eyes. often represented as a burden it seemed to require constant vigilance against the mature and it be easy to trace this anxiety back to lang own guilt of leaving her children but i am not convinced. the insistence combination of strength and anxiety is also a motive recognizing mothering as hard labor and mother says workers broke even the quintessential madonna known as my grandmother shows a woman who is turned away toward
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children rather than toward them, her photographs of pregnancy are striking. the images were still impolite if not in decent some of you may be aware that no pregnant woman was allowed to hold a job that had hurt appearing in public if she were pregnant. there would be several public images before pregnancy was respectable. lang made quite a few portraits of visibly pregnant women and not maternal cliches some have even negative attitudes and it is not surprising at all and depressing conditions but a big step away from the sentimentalize joy that is associated with the images of motherhood. like many female
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photographer she made many pictures of children some of the children are just cute and lively displaying the standard appeal for children of our viewers of photography often not to comment to the widespread many are also not so happy. i find herve pitchers sensitive to the complex emotional lives of children and taking them seriously as individuals. and it is a particularly striking correlation. the girl at the top is part of a migrant picking hops and liquor what the bottom take in two decades later later, is a palestinian
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drove from a time when she was traveling around the world doing photography in asia. these children are typically not with their parents but perhaps neglected but likely beyond the control of a caring parent and it was no doubt charged with the motion of her own children and her own childhood her carry identification of both neglected and neglect door and to the visual outrage embedded in the many images she made her child labor and exploitation. my hunch is that many of these children's hard lives functioned four her and the contradictory direction on the one hand making the deprivation and that she saw made her own children's pain at less intense and her own
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guilt less. on the other hand,, and counters russ can -- sick and hungry children did not let her escape. perhaps most unconventional are images of the fathers. we may call them say padonna. [laughter] these images are often exceptionally tender. quite possibly more so they and the mother child images. her sensitivity to fathers may be another product of her travels in the countryside whose close bother child relations are a common aspect when children are not separated from their fathers says they are in the city. but what it is interesting is they are not only tender
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but quite a number of pictures like the one to your right. that show so much joy. the one on the right is one of my favorites, basically a picture of a migrant farmer who has just returned to their camp from a hard day's work in the field and is completely delighted by being treated by two children and a little dog. the presence of a child is a father dignity because he is responsible and ganes authority but when they appear with their lives -- wives there in weekend positions. i do not have a picture to show you of that. and dejected men as i call them or they are a lang
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depression special they sometimes stand-alone or on street corners or sit on stoops or bend over park benches, even these dejected guys are not an attractive and buy no means abject. they are graceful and softened as if she was finding a positive side of mailed this empowerment and showed idle unemployed men as worried and despondent yet absolutely manley. always attentive to masculine ways of handling humiliation and from the japanese and german she was particularly sensitive to teenage boys and i quote something that she wrote "they're the ones that occur be the most part of the teenage boys who did not know what they were" end quote. >> she thought they thought they were american but now the government is saying they are not. >> the older people have more of a way to be
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dignified in such a situation and not asking questions. but the americanized boys were allowed and rowdy and frightened. >> she repeated the subtle some version in her extraordinary people of color. racial liberals typically perceived subordinated non right stage whites as a racist who saw them as depraved and lazy and stupid the both saw them as somehow depleted. if you want an example of what i am talking about, look at wells book in hand you have seen their faces. it is quite exciting. lang images standout for their lack of
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objectification and lack of fix on mrs. semper could just as the white subjects she will shoot from a low to heighten the dignity of her subjects. and also social subordination even when it did not obscure a person's energy or complexity. her subjects are typically restrained and cerebral. the photographs of nonwhite women are more charming than those of men and less depressed but never simple. perhaps what makes a lang portrait most interesting the subjects retain a zone of reserve for those who look down on there subjects as many photographers that preceded lang they knew their subjects entirely and who they were.
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lang photographs suggest that the photographer does not understand everything about her subjects and remains a mystery. this may be the most respectful and challenging message. and i wonder what her thoughts would have been in she lived a few years longer in time to experience the women's movement. she died 1965. but considering the questions we can ask today, it is two suggested questioning and awareness of contradictions that is all they barely subterranean. hi suspect this consciousness or possibly unconsciousness was not unique but could be found among many women whose lives and work in the 1930's because of the depression simply could not fit the
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gender structures that the depression and the new deal era were trying to affirm. it is possible purchase were sensitive and in touch with the ross spots created with this time. and want to see justice by the absence of any feminist activism, surely they're roots could be found in her point*. that is it. of thank you so much. [applause] >> that would be delighted to have questions or comments or arguments or what ever. >> what about our process for photographing of the
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subjects? you mentioned she had a process for not being seen or notice that allowed her to get a much more spontaneous and natural reaction of from them. the second is how she made them beautiful? you mentioned that. >> the answer to both of those, she had herself cents and the like i know how to put on a face so no one will see me. but if you look negative how she worked and what the critics say you would understand. first of all, she exaggerated the slowness and people will stiffen before the camera. one way not to get them to do that is have them forget about her. sometimes she would be very
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slow and have a tripod over here or over there but she preferred to have three cameras fully loaded so she could change according to what she would issue to. she found that she did that for a while people got tired of watching her and they would wait for her to be ready. another technique was conversation and she learned right away from policy you do not ask questions like how much did she pay door what is your boss like? because but they would say how do get to the next down or how far is it? or she would ask for a drink of water and would drink it very, very slowly. another one was that she knew kids are very interested and she actually
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forced herself to let the children hold and examined the cameras. pretty soon as you have a gaggle of kids in appearance would come over to make sure they were not bothering her. her purpose in her words was to get people to relax into their natural body language. she believed, although i said before she thought people's faces were real but much more interested in how bodies reveal things and i did not sure you any of these but some of these most extraordinary photographs are portraits of where you do not see the person's face at all but to suggest rate a position of an emotional state of that person.
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