Exceeding the Frame: The Photography of Diane Arbus

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Ann E. Millett-Gallant, Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/

Abstract: Metaphors for vision overwhelm the English language. "To see" is to know or to understand; "to envision" is to create or innovate; "to gaze" is to project desire, possess, and control; "to watch" is to study, examine, or take heed; "to witness" is to take part in history. Looking invokes embodied interest; glancing is unconscious; staring is deliberate and sometimes unsanctioned. Viewing proves dubious at best, especially when it comes to looking at other people, ourselves, and being looked at. Photography intensifies these metaphors for vision, turning human acts and appearances into images. Through various genres and conventions, photography frames human bodies for viewing and assigns meaning to them. Photographer Diane Arbus exploits the dynamics of viewing through her medium and form, transgressing the frames between representation and everyday life. Her work is often criticized because it defies photographic conventions and social norms for seeing and being seen, as it frames the viewer in the leery acts of looking. Best known for her distinctive style of portraiture, Arbus's oeuvre is about people watching and the people who capture the eye, who attract the gaze and stare, and who become questionable metaphors by being seen, watched, photographed, and publicly displayed.

Additional Information

Disability Studies Quarterly
Language: English
Date: 2004
Diane Arbus, Photography, Disabilities

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