Today, 5 March 2016, I bought a scroll of crumpled brown paper for $5.00 from the local hardware store at Hendra. My plan is to use this scroll of paper as my canvas to “revisit” most, if not all, of the photos in Diane Arbus‘s 1971 anthology Untitled, a collection of photos of “people in an institution for the mentally retarded”. I’ve written about this anthology and my response to it elsewhere at www.donnamcdonald.com under the heading “Talking Back to Diane Arbus”.
In late 2015, I produced a series of drawings and reworked photographic images of three photos from this Untitled anthology. My triptych of drawings, “Talking Back to Diane Arbus”, were included in an exhibition at the Logan West Library’s Gallery in March-April 2016 (with gratitude to Jennifer Brasher).
However, my 2015 foray into responding to the Diane Arbus anthology has not quelled my anxiety about her intrusive and confronting images of people with intellectual disability. I continue to be simultaneously fascinated and repelled by her photos; I continue to want to “make sense” of them. In 2016, I plan to draw more of my responses to them as studies in black and white oil sticks on that scroll of brown paper. I will then select one of those responses and “explode” its scale onto a large base of heavy quality paper, such as Fabriano paper.