An interview with feminist, author and philosopher Simone de Beauvoir, with a translation, was posted on Maud Newton‘s blog – [thanks Petya! – check out her wonderful blog at Daily Dose of Feminism ]. Thoughts about aging, death and the process of transiting through life have been floating in and out of my work a lot over the past two years, and this interview seems a decent, albeit very casual, summary of SdB’s larger work, La Vieillesse (The Coming of Age) (1970)
After reading the English translation of the video interview, I found myself browsing around, looking for a particularly wonderful portrait of SdB I had seen many years ago. It still eludes me, but I did find a Slate article about some controversy arising from the publishing of another photograph of her by Art Shay. Along with the concerns, at times bemused, that the writer of this article expresses, it saddens me that the political / hegemonic subtleties of the (photographic) gaze are still so elusive to most of us. LOOK at this. The editors of the magazine are sensationalizing an image that arose out of a personal and trusting moment between two intimates (in this case, Shay and de Beauvoir). Not only that, but I think their use of the image on the cover firmly shunts SdB into the very same social margins that she tried to disassemble.
Where does all of this leave me as a photographer? In the same place as always: knowing fully that the photographic image is loaded with expectations of truth and fact, but its reading is always profoundly conditioned by context and placement. There are still far too many illiterates around. [“The illiterate of the future will be ignorant of the pen and the camera alike” – Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, ‘A New Instrument of Vision,’ Feb. 28, 1936]