Ever since I opted-out of employment as a public school teacher to work at home while caring for my daughter, I’ve become increasingly aware of and very interested in the realms of private and public space, how people exist and interact in these often conflicting arenas, and how the lines separating the two blur.
Naturally, my curiosity was sparked when I learned that there would be an exhibit on roadside memorials at the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art in Tarpon Springs, Florida. I was pleased to find that there was also a small exhibit of some of Arnold Newman’s photographs in a neighboring gallery.
I felt I was imposing while looking at Mantas’ photograph of this memorial.
Here, Newman takes us into the home of Golda Meir, Israel’s first female Prime Minister.
At first, I found it odd that an icon such as Newman would be paired with a photography teacher (albeit a talented one) from Chicago, but as I walked through each exhibit I realized that their work was somehow connected. Newman, the pioneer of environmental portraiture, became known for taking pictures of public figures in private places while Angelo Mantas photographs private memorials that are displayed in public places.
No stranger to publicity, Woody Allen posed for Newman where he does much of his writing, in bed.
Mantas’ juxtaposition of the cross and the car clearly shows a melding of private and public worlds.
I was somewhat bothered when looking at the roadside memorials, especially those that were adorned with personal mementos or private messages. I felt like I was encroaching on the privacy of the dead. However, I was drawn to many of Newman’s photos and found myself wanting to know more about the people in them. I guess I’m more comfortable peering into a public figure’s life because they have invited me to do so.
Posted by: Jen Mae