Exhibition: ‘Freedom Must Be Lived: Marion Palfi’s America, 1940-1978’ at the Phoenix Art Museum

… this article caught my eye straight off when i opened Feedbin… and as i read the opening paragraphs i knew i would be reading to the very end… the story of yet another woman who didn’t get the attention she deserved in the male dominated world of photography…

… as i read i encounter this:

“We talk about the poverty of the Indian, their poor health, their substandard of living – we cry – ! Who is responsible for this? The murder of the American Indian has stopped as such. No more Indian wars, but all kinds of schemes are constantly working to take still their last piece of land (we found oil, uranium, and other valuable minerals and there is fish, timber, etc.) and above all to wipe the image away – erase – “to change the Indian” – Into what? Into a middle class personality with all the ambitions and drives of our society. Competition and exploitation are the most important assets, we think. Foreign to all Indian thinking! What do we actually do? We destroy the Indian completely, mentally, psychologically, and spiritually. You might ask – so what? What is so good not to assimilate with the predominant society? Let me tell you what. Our society destroys lives – with our “know how” destroy all living. We pollute the air, the water, poison the plants and animal life. The Indian knew no money, but the Indian knew security, happiness – the Indian was a supreme conserver of nature – of life. The Indian worked with nature not against it.”1

… competition and exploitation are the core values of our society, western civilization, the capitalist world… we destroy lives and the earth as we pursue these values to their destructive end… could it be that this grand experiment of life and “intelligence” is destined to failure?… or could it be that as significant as we think we are, we just aren’t anything close to the main show?…

… but i digress…

… Marion Palfi’s life and work are amazing… it is a long post, as almost all of them are over at Art Blart… but in depth informative on a remarkable woman…


  1. via Art Blart: Marion Palfi. “Some Thoughts,” preface to the unpublished manuscript, “My Children, First I liked the Whites, I Gave Them Fruits,” in the possession of Martin Magner, pp. 1-2 quoted in Elizabeth Lindquist-Cock. “Marion Palfi: An Appreciation,” in The Archive Research Series Number 19, September 1983, Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, p. 9. [return]

01 First Thoughts

… no middle of the night waking by either dog, but Chas is ready promptly at 4 AM… it’s ok, no alcohol last night and in bed more or less on time…

… the heat should break today… there isn’t anything abnormal about a few days of this kind of heat at this time of year… not like the Pacific Northwest where temperatures are breaking records, and in the case of British Columbia, setting an all time record… 116 degrees!…

… this morning’s Heather Cox Richardson is all about how the oil and gas industry are lobbying states for legislation that favors the fossil fuel industry and makes it harder to pursue green energy strategies… the problem with capitalism… money equals power and big oil and gas have lots of money… interests are entrenched… numerous states depend substantially on the oil and gas industry for jobs and revenue… we should be better at adjusting but the market capitalist system often makes it difficult to do what is beneficial in the long run…

a sweet story about Gertrude Tate and Alice Austin love affair in Brain Pickings… Alice Austin was a pioneering photographer… Maria Popova describes her work as brilliant, i am not as clear that it was, but she was both pursuing photography and loving a woman when both were difficult to do… i think her genius was in just getting out and doing it, recording people, in dignified portraits… here is an example…

Street-cleaner at 34th Street, New York City, part of Alice Austen’s 1896 series Street Types of New York. (Alice Austen House archive.)

… trying out Craft after a high recommendation from a Micro.blog community member… trying to see where it might fit into my workflow…

… the internet is so freaking slow this AM… that is what i hoped i was leaving behind when i came home… what gives?…

05 Work Won’t Love Me Back

an article on Sarah Jaffe’s new book, Work Won’t Love You Back… it is a little expensive, even in the Kindle version so i add it for now to my list on Amazon…

… as i read the book, i think a few things… i think that i tried to have a career where i loved my work, but it did not pan out in a satisfying way in the end… then i switched to being a photographic artist… i don’t have to make money doing it, thanks to H mostly, but it is nice when i do… yet, i am ambivalent about the gallery system, the gatekeeping, etc. which has me focusing my art in ways i would not otherwise… still, i have come to a compromise, where i make what i make and wait for opportunities to have something come of it… right now, i write a blog that i think of as part of my artwork… nobody reads it… i don’t publicize it much, i would rather people discover it and let me know if they liked it…

02 Regarding the Suffering of Others, Chapter 9, Susan Sontag

Space reserved for being serious is hard to come by in a modern society, whose chief model of a public space is the mega-store (which may also be an airport or a museum).1

… in a secular society, particularly a capitalist one, all public space is for the dissemination of goods, services and corporate/state propaganda… there is little sacred space… we are left to cobble together whatever sacredness of space we can in our own homes and find it in nature…

… Sontag has a point, what do we do with imagery that should have a sacred setting for interaction?… how do we facilitate a reverential response when setting is so much a part of that response?… Sontag posits that books may be a more appropriate spot for images demanding reverential respect, in that the book is a one on one experience…

 IS THERE AN ANTIDOTE to the perennial seductiveness of war? And is this a question a woman is more likely to pose than a man? (Probably yes.)2

… one wonders if it is probable that there is an antidote and yes, a woman is more likely to ask the question… or, if probably yes applies to both?… punctuation suggests the latter, situation suggests the former… i used to be sure about the woman part, less so now… i think women ask the question as long as they have not gained the power to be war makers… as they acquire this power, it seems less clear that they will do something different with it…

… Sontag discusses Jeff Wall’s Dead Troops Talk (A Vision After an Ambush of a Red Army Patrol near Moqor, Afghanistan, Winter of 1986),

© Jeff Wall

… and i think to myself, there, there is the difference, between me and some photographers, my subject is the mundane everyday, not historical tableaux, what every day is made of… not significant statements to be fully made in one image, twitter bursts, Facebook posts, etc…

… well, there i am, finished with Regarding the Pain of Others…


  1. Sontag, Susan. Regarding the Pain of Others (p. 119). Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Kindle Edition. [return]
  2. Ibid. [return]

06 We Should Abolish Museums Now

an article arguing not so much for the abolishment of museums, but their transformation into cultural institutions that serve the people, not the power structure of the white heteropatriarchy…

… museums exist because they are funded by the power that prevails and they purposely tell the cultural history in ways that support that power… is this another sign that the multiarchy is rising?…

The new museum requires an ethical reorientation from our old ways of thinking, a divestment from a conservationist and capitalist ideology, and a centering of voices previously silenced by the colonial project. People and art deserve a better form of art stewardship.1

05 Hearts and Minds

an art show at the Carriage Trade Gallery in NYC, curated in partnership with Rectangle, Brussels… the exhibition displays the critique of colonization by 12 artists… setting aside for the moment what John Berger told us about the capacity of the establishment to absorb critique and present it without doing damage to itself (art galleries are capitalist entities for the most part)… or can we?… how effective is the critique?… does it change anything?… or is it a PR campaign of its own, designed to suggest that Eurocentric capitalist culture is sensitive to its ill effects on the planet and its peoples?…

There is a common misconception that countries in the Global South are “developing,” when in reality, many of them are still recovering from centuries of imperial dominance.1