Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Robert Frank: The Americans



©Beringer-Dratch. Huastecan boy in Tamuin, San Luis Potosì

This is the real thing, the 50's and 60's - the Beats - the seminal work of photography and prose that brought the beauty of coming of age on that ubiquitous road trip across America to American youth as the rite of passage to manhood in a culture that was not to fall (as many did) into suburban little boxes that are now big boxes and who were not to forget that the country was made up of people who were far from alike and far from ready to embrace a conforming, Republican reality of follow the leader.

It is Robert Frank's brilliant hand-held, non-digital, often grainy and even blurred, un-Photoshopped pictures of the America that unfolded before him at mid-century. And with them and their surprises and laughter and tears are the words of Jack Kerouac whether written without stopping on paper rolls or not.

In deference I have written this in the same way except on an Apple TextEdit sheet that just scrolls away. But it is 2005. Can you believe it? And the waitresses of roadside diners are there still but the film is not grainy and the diner is a chain fast food joint without any character and a photographer would be detained for shooting in a trademarked establishment by rentacops who have no sense or sense of humor or sense of vision.

This is it, the beginning, the germinal work. It is that which you study to know where 20th century photogrpahy - street photography - came from and to try to understand where 21st century photogrpahy should go. Take a look. The 1950's just aren't that far away.

It was the beginning.