Last week’s breaching of the US Capitol glued people worldwide to electronic devices, proving pictures complement reportage. Democracy is messy and as a nation, we aren’t perfect at getting it right all the time. Yes, Democracy encompasses those who don’t deserve it. Here are 10 pictures from Anchorage Press’ Sleuth 2020, which reveal America in the raw.
Photo 1: Brian Adams’, ‘Kivalina Sea Wall, 2007’ (Sleuth essay- ‘Climate Change Alert through Arctic Aesthetics, February 24, 2020’) — Not many notice or care about this tiny Alaska Native coastal town that is slowly sliding into the sea. This ‘place’ is an eyewitness to Global Warming affecting the entire Earth.
Photo 2: Margaret Bourke White’s ‘The Louisville Flood, 1937’ (Sleuth essay: ‘Aesthetic America- Love it or Leave it, in the Pandemic, April 28, 2020’)– Sardonic verbiage overlays a bread line of desperate African-Americans beneath a billboard depicting a well- dressed, cheerful white family– even white dog, all riding (affording) a shiny new automobile. Reality check: discrimination and insensitivity to the ‘other’ continues.
Photo 3: Reginald Marsh’s ‘Why Not Use the-L, 1930’ (Sleuth essay: ‘Quick! Hide your Children from Art- It’s Worse than Covid-19, May 4, 2020’)–Subways level the social playing field, at least until a rider’s final stop. Homelessness, with its drug abuse component, has no easy answers, except in the realm of complacency and denial.
Photo 4: Alexander Gardner’s ‘The Confederate Dead, Antietam, 1862’, (Sleuth essay: ‘Writing on American Art, Interrupted by a Covid-19 Scare, May 11, 2020’) — Whether these men are Confederate or Union soldiers is forever immaterial. What a waste to kill your neighbor—good thing it doesn’t happen in the US anymore!
Photo 5: Tōyō Miyatake’s ‘Untitled (Manzanar), 1945’, (Sleuth essay: ‘Writing on American Art, Interrupted by a Covid-19 Scare, May 11, 2020’)–During World War II, these law abiding Japanese-Americans were incarcerated. The little girl looking back at the camera pierces the fourth wall, breaking with the obedient detainees.
Photo 6: John Filo’s ‘Shootings at Kent State, 1970’, (Sleuth essay: ‘Writing on American Art, Interrupted by a Covid-19 Scare, May 11, 2020’) – It was considered unconscionable that a student could be shot on an American campus, let alone by the invited National Guard– ‘When will we ever learn?’
Photo 7: Fritz Scholder’s ‘Portrait of a Plains Indian, 1970s’, (Sleuth essay: ‘June is Bustin’ Out All Over with Color, May 25, 2020’) — Survival with dignity exudes through the design and colors of this Chief– a paradox within the great American story which neglects the importance of Indigenous ancestral history.
Photo-8: Carl Johnson’s ‘Fishing on Silver Salmon Creek’, (Sleuth essay: ‘Where Water is Gold by Carl Johnson—Close-Reading Pebble Mine, June 22, 2020’)– A lone man fishes along Lake Clark National Park’s Silver Salmon Creek, recreating away from crowds in a pollution-free environment. This scene becomes an allegory—all people crave peace and solitude after a long day’s work.
Photo-9: Walker Evans’ ‘Cotton Wagon, Moundville Alabama, 1936’, (Sleuth essay: Needed Photographic Reflections of US: ‘Walker Evans’ by Svetlana Alpers, September 14, 2020’)—Cotton made into: clothing, artist canvas, billowing sails on cargo ships carrying goods, immigrants, and those enslaved to pick cotton. One of the causes of the American Civil War was the warp and weft of King Cotton— tropes for everything good and evil about the Modern era.
Photo-10: ‘Philip Guston’s Window, 1970’, (Sleuth Essay: Interpreting Racism through the Exhibition ‘Philip Guston Now’ October 26, 2020’)—‘This Land is Your Land’ as is the US Capitol, even if you trash it—But don’t push too far!
Mini Sleuth: Full 2020 Sleuth (Jean Bundy) essays at www.Anchorage Press.com (A&E).
Jean Bundy is Climate Change Envoy for AICA-INT.
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