Pop culture treasure, high culture trash.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
The Walker's sprawling Diane Arbus retrospective closes exactly one month from today. It's really worth seeing, and Thursdays are free. The show's strength, strangely enough, isn't its exploration of Arbus the photographer but of Arbus the writer. Curators have collected what seem like hundreds of pages from her journals, date books and note pads, whereon Arbus satisfied a Plath-like compulsion to sketch out the perilous topography of her subconscious. The Walker has transformed several smaller gallery spaces into mock-up darkrooms, where sepia-tinged lights flicker overhead and Arbus's handwriting covers the walls. The effect is seductive, spectral, and more than a little bit spooky. While the exhibit stops short of psychologizing Arbus, especially her motives for suicide, its juxtaposition of the visual and the verbal does an admirable job of letting the artist speak for herself.