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 “Some Thoughts,” preface to the unpublished manuscript, “My Children, First I liked the Whites, I Gave Them Fruits,” in the possession of Martin Magner, pp. 1-2 quoted in Elizabeth Lindquist-Cock.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]

First Thoughts

… long conversation with H at breakfast yesterday… went down a rabbit hole about their relationship with siblings and whether they wanted to see their brother while he was on the east coast… got in the middle of something i didn’t want to be in the middle of… the conversation so long and wide ranging that the day was permanently reorganized and no writing or photo editing was done…

… a bunch of grocery shopping followed, and then a couple of hours just hanging out waiting to do chicken chores because i wasn’t in the mood to do writing, reading or photography… once the chickens were tended to, i got us both a glass of whisky and more laying around and watching TV ensued… then dinner, which was a hamburger with bacon, swiss cheese and onion… no sides, that was it…

… today i will roast a turkey and we will have our second turkey day… H likes, especially, to have turkey leftovers for sandwiches etc…

… we have started to prep for the trip to Florida to see M… working out strategies for loading the car… ordering new suitcases… H got a couple of Timbuk2 roller bags for us… trying to decide if we should get a clamshell for top of car, or if we can even afford one… i had wanted something that wasn’t a big process to get in and out of… we are going to have to be very compact or we will need the shell… and can we even get it in time anymore?…

… continue to be in a pretty good mood… holiday spirit and all that…

… realize that i haven’t had notification of S’s fruitcakes available for purchase… hoping it is not too late…

… HCR about the Ahmaud Arbery case… how justice was done in this instance, but about how close it came to justice not being done… it was one of the accused that made and then released a video, believing it exonerated the three of them… it was what finally brought the case out in the open and ensured prosecution… one moment of justice in a sea of injustice…

… this makes me think about my feeling that we are still a long way from justice on 45’s shenanigans and my despair about ever getting there…

More Daily Feed

… one more before i go walking…

Study Shows Correlation Between Number of Confederate Monuments and Lynchings

… via Hyperallergic… the title says it all, but the article backs it up…

Daily Feed

Frieze Festival, London, via AnOther

… the artists i like…

Deborah Roberts

Deborah Roberts ‘Laying my burdens down’, 2021 Mixed media collage on canvas 177.8 x 177.8cm(70 x 70in). Copyright Deborah Roberts. Photo by Paul Bardargjy.

… the artist is African American, well known in this country… her work depicts:

 Black children, beautifully composed, in collage form, from found imagery and hand-painted details. Each one features an array of skin tones, hairstyles, facial features and clothing in a powerful exploration of what the gallery terms “the challenges encountered by Black children as they respond to social constructs perpetuated by the white gaze and western visual culture”.1

… i like the image above… i like its photo collage quality, i like its minimalism… i find it pleasing to look at, mildly challenging… the direct gaze of the subject… the averted gaze also… it is art with a social purpose… it is the white patriarchy absorbing the critique in a way deemed acceptable…

Do Ho Suh

Do Ho Suh, Doorknobs on Backplates: Providence Home and New York Homes, 2021

… i like the whimsy…

Mary Beth Edelson

Mary Beth Edelson

… American feminist art pioneer, nudes on the beach striking Egyptian statuary poses… she died this past April… i am interested in women in photography, especially nudes where i find very interesting crosscurrents of the male gaze, female gaze, feminist statements…

2021.06.10.04

Bob Marley and the Whalers

… we play an album of Whalers music during dinner which leads to a conversation about the connections we have not been able to make with black people… we have tried hard not to be racist, largely are not, accept that we have benefited from a racist system, but wish we could connect better with the black people we know…

01 First Thoughts

… last night we watched a newish series, The Underground… it depicted in the most horrific way, the brutality of slave owners towards slaves, including the whipping and burning of one slave while the slave owners partied and danced… i did not watch the first episode to the end and it is doubtful i will watch another one… i just don’t want that sort of brutality seared on my brain, though i am sure that was the intent of the creators, that we know what the experience of slaves was, that we experience the appropriate amount of guilt and shame… i believe black and brown people were horrifically mistreated then and continue to be mistreated today… i believe it is wrong to treat black and brown people as anything less than equals… i am on board with reparations… i have little interest in being bludgeoned with a truth that changes little in the way i think, because i am already mostly there… and those who might need to shift their thinking on race in big ways are unlikely to watch it or change if they do… what is the point?…

05 About Abortion Rights

Middlebury College economist Caitlin Knowles Myers projects that overturning Roe might reduce the annual number of abortions by about 14 percent. “A post-Roe United States isn’t one in which abortion isn’t legal at all,” Myers told The New York Times. “It’s one in which there’s tremendous inequality in abortion access.”1

… having just been thinking about atrocities and the atrocious, i encounter this article and wonder, why are these “atrocities” so important to stop, and others not?… the same Christians so adamant about abortion are pro Israel in spite of its atrocious treatment of Palestinians… the same Christians many decades ago lynched black men and women(?)… there is something unique about the unborn child?… i suspect it is a useful political issue for rallying the faithful as well as a means of oppression of women, especially women of color…

… pro choice advocates are resigning themselves to further restriction of abortion after the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case out of Mississippi…

… we are not logical animals… we are primal and political animals… the ability to reason only means we can work out a defense for atrocities and the atrocious…

04 Regarding the Pain of Others, Chapter 5, Susan Sontag

… Sontag sums up the chapter by reminding us the presentation of history is selective… we have reached a moment in which a large number of our citizens are ready to look at the horrors of slavery and its aftermath, but what about the many other atrocities committed in our name by our government?…

A museum devoted to the history of America’s wars that included the vicious war the United States fought against guerrillas in the Philippines from 1899 to 1902 (expertly excoriated by Mark Twain), and that fairly presented the arguments for and against using the atomic bomb in 1945 on the Japanese cities, with photographic evidence that showed what those weapons did, would be regarded—now more than ever—as a most unpatriotic endeavor.1


  1. Sontag, Susan. Regarding the Pain of Others (p. 94). Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Kindle Edition. [return]

03 Regarding the Pain of Others, Chapter 5, Susan Sontag

… Sontag talks about the “usefulness” of images of atrocities exhibited long after the atrocious can be punished for being atrocious… the example is a set of photographs of lynchings in the south, taken as souvenirs… why show them in the year 2000 when they were made 1890-1930?… what are we supposed to do with the information, with the consciousness they raise?…

The pictures were taken as souvenirs and made, some of them, into postcards; more than a few show grinning spectators, good churchgoing citizens as most of them had to be, posing for a camera with the backdrop of a naked, charred, mutilated body hanging from a tree. The display of these pictures makes us spectators, too.1

… will black and brown people be treated better now because we see these images now?, will we recognize just what brutes we are?, i am guessing that most who saw the exhibit or the book, Without Sanctuary, think of themselves as brutes, yet…

It was further argued that submitting to the ordeal should help us understand such atrocities not as the acts of “barbarians” but as the reflection of a belief system, racism, that by defining one people as less human than another legitimates torture and murder. But maybe they were barbarians. Maybe this is what most barbarians look like. (They look like everybody else.)2

… this is what gives me pause at our present moment in history, brutes are on the move, and they are us…


  1. Sontag, Susan. Regarding the Pain of Others (p. 91). Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Kindle Edition. [return]
  2. . [return]

02 Regarding the Pain of Others, Chapter 4, Susan Sontag

… this quote is highlighted 273 times in my Kindle edition book…

The more remote or exotic the place, the more likely we are to have full frontal views of the dead and dying.1

… Sontag concludes the chapter discussing the racist nature of photographs of the dead and dying in African and Asian countries… a collective fascination with the less fortunate as a means to confirm the good fortune of not living in one of “those” countries… human beings are very good at othering… one questions the adaptive advantage, isn’t there something wrong with nature’s programming here?… is getting one’s genes into the next generation so important?… at this point i confront the reality that, as far as i know, i have not projected my genes into the next generation, a fact that at times leaves me feeling a failure…


  1. Sontag, Susan. Regarding the Pain of Others (p. 70). Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Kindle Edition. [return]