I wrote about the unknown “in between” of images showing the last moments and corpse of Moammar Gaddafi in today’s The Washington Post. It’s part of an occasional Images series I’ve been writing since the beginning of the Iraq War in 2003. Most of these columns focus on a single phenomenon, the accidental meanings of the supposedly simple, stable and indexical journalistic photograph. After spending the day in the library I came home to discover that the mystery of that “in between,” the way in which Gaddafi died, is already a political question in the new Libya.
Monthly Archives: October 2011
I remember once, before being ushered into an interview with Robert Redford, one of his people said to me, “Now don’t be nervous.” I laughed, because the thought of being nervous hadn’t even occurred to me. But I was nervous before meeting Frank Kameny… because he mattered. This man’s whole life made my life better. And he paid a price for his courage. How many times, with a handshake, we mutter the empty words: It’s an honor. But sometimes it is indeed an honor. A very great one. He was, of course, perfectly charming.
I report in the Post today on modifications (and I think clearly improvements) to the memorial to Dwight David Eisenhower being designed by Frank Gehry. The architect, and his collaborator the theater artist Robert Wilson, spoke together at a National Archives public panel on Wednesday. And then Gehry appeared at a National Capitol Planning Commission informational hearing on Thursday, where he had to deal with what must have been some very frustrating questions about the size of the stone pillars and the scale of the monument. Frustrating for two reasons: Because the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts has essentially said they like the scale of the updated designs, and frustrating because you can’t really shrink this thing beyond a certain point without it losing its monumentality. The columns, Gehry said, are a bit smaller than previously designed, but can’t get any narrower without compromising the structural role they play holding the giant metal tapestries.
I think many people were convinced, however, by the tapestry prototypes he brought to Washington in September, and again for the NCPC hearing this week. The design that seems to be winning hearts and minds is based on an innovative technique inspired by the shading and lights and darks of Albrecht Durer’s etchings and woodcuts. And you can see that in the results. Having seen the tapestries, I am more and more in like with this memorial, which will be strange and very unlike anything else in Washington. The odds that it could be breathtakingly beautiful (especially at night) are much better than I thought they’d be when I first saw the original designs a year and a half ago.
In the last two weeks I went to Bentonville, Arkansas to check out the new Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, brought to you by the family of Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart. The Post ran one of the stories, an overview of the project and its origins, on A1 and the other, a review of the architecture designed by Moshe Safdie, in our annual museum section. I also reviewed a performance of Philip Glass on the piano. An exhibition of African-American art–30 Americans–at the Corcoran Museum. A survey of the new (e)merge art festival in D.C. A performance of Beethoven and Orff at the National Symphony. And a lovely 100th anniversary retrospective of photographer Harry Callahan at the National Gallery of Art. It’s a busy season.