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The Exhibit Twilight Visions at the International Center of Photography Essay

The medium of photography in the post World War I period was almost too deliciously convenient a vehicle for certain proponents of the Dadaists and the Surrealists. Cameras had been, since their invention, been shrinking to a manageable and portable size. The newly graspable medium offered these iconoclastic visionaries a range of possibilities for creating art that were available in no other way.

Through photography, the Dadaists could freely exercise the randomness, transgressiveness, immediacy, and populist tendencies they espoused. The Surrealists could snatch from around them scenes of impossibility and disturbing wonder, while showing bodies and settings with stark reality. Is it any wonder, then, that photography, Paris, Surrealism, and Dadaism are terms which go together?

The ability of photography to capture scenes of the moment allowed for an uncompromising observation of the world as it was, with all its warts, and was thus very appealing to a group which gloried in calling a spade a spade. After all, in the words of Tristan Tzara,“beauty is dead” (Tzara 249).

Photography could catch the unwary subject in the midst of petty deception and hypocrisy. A photographer could make art from the flotsam and jetsam of the streets, whether human or object. A photograph was almost like performance art, involving the subject and the artist in an ephemeral, spontaneous, one-time-only event, very much in line with Tzara’s thinking (Tzara 253)[1].

Additionally, photography avoided entirely the hated tyranny of the art academy (Tzara 250). Further, the cumbersome process of using models, undergoing days or weeks of sittings, was avoidable when using photography. Rather than requiring a studio and years of training in drafting and painting, photography could be undertaken with only a modest closet for atelier. Additionally, in that less litigious age did not even require the consent of the subject to create a portrait.

Furthermore, by placing the relatively inexpensive means of production of art in the hands of almost everyone, photography was enormously egalitarian and could theoretically be adopted by the masses for their own artistic expression, which was a goal of Dadaism (Darwent)[2]. What a perfect fit with the philosophy of the Dadaists!

At the same time, photography had the enormous advantage that pictures could be modified from their recording of strict reality. They could, for example, be altered by changing lenses or using mirrors, as in Distortions (1933-1934) by Andre Kertesz, a Hungarian born expatriate who made Paris his home (Andre Kertesz). Photographs may also be modified chemically during processing, by changing the exposure or by retouching, to create entirely fantastic and appealingly dreamlike effects.

Get your 100% original paper on any topic done in as little as 3 hours Learn More Entirely surreal images could be produced out of a darkroom, even at the hands of a person who had no drafting or painting skills [3]. Such dreamlike effects were much valued by the Surrealists. Andre Breton wonders in his Surrealist Manifesto whether dreams are not equal in significance to waking life (Breton 434-437). He also has great respect for madness, and for hallucinations. In fact he regards hallucinations as pleasant enough to seduce the madman to remain in that condition (Breton 433).

All these states of being can distort perception in the same way that a distorted photograph modifies reality. How appealing it must have been to know that one could print on paper the contents of one’s dreams, as Breton could readily have accomplished with his simple but striking personal dream image of a man being cut in two by a window (Breton 436-437).

The exhibit Twilight Visions at the International Center of Photography shows a range of photos from the practitioners of this medium in the 1920’s and 30’s. One notable example, Brassai, the nom de shutter of Hungarian born Gyula Halasz, specialized in images of a very anti-establishment cast of “prostitutes, pimps, madams, transvestites, apaches, and assorted cold-eyed pleasure seekers” (Brassai).

Brassai’s photo of the Angry Couple at the Bal Musette (1932), suspends the quarreling and not terribly elegant couple in suspended animation between moments of blame and insult. The unsparing picture certainly exemplifies the Dadaist view of Tristan Tzara in his Dada Manifesto, 1918; demonstrating “no pity” (Tzara).

This depressing but basically realistic photo contrasts nicely with another Brassai, Bal Musette (1932) that combines the low-life grittiness of two bored prostitutes (or at least ladies of easy virtue) hugging a cheerful young man, with the hallucinatory surprise of finding in the mirror the image of a much older man and his companions.

It is almost as if the viewer were seeing the young man’s dissolute future. Another piece, Girl Playing Snooker (1933), possesses all the dignity of an odalisque or any portrait of John Singer Sargent, but was of course snapped in a dark bistro of an undoubted prostitute. Brassai’s gaze, like that of the young woman in the photo, is “straightforward as a hammer” (Brassai). This portrait of a nameless pool hustler delivers a Dadaist poke in the eye of traditional formal portraiture.

The can-can dancers move blurrily in Ilse Bing’s picture, French Cancan Dancers, Moulin Rouge, Paris (1931). Bing was unusual among this group of photographers, In that she had actually had some art and design-related training (Ilse Bing Biography).

We will write a custom Essay on The Exhibit Twilight Visions at the International Center of Photography specifically for you! Get your first paper with 15% OFF Learn More In spite of the blurring of this photo, it is a vivid image, and it is interesting to compare this with the many images of the demi-monde of the dance hall from the Impressionists. No color is in the photo, of course, and we are able to see the faces full on, unlike many backstage views by the previous generation of artists.

How odd it is to confirm that the Impressionists actually were accurate in portraying the cancan performers as entirely composed, disinterested and almost expressionless. The word jaded might have been invented for these faces. Perhaps, as Breton suggests, for these women, “existence is elsewhere” (Breton 439).

Breton would probably have encouraged these dancers to absent themselves as much as they could from the real world, since he affirmed that Surrealism was such a potent way of dealing with daily problems (Breton)[4].

Dadaism and Surrealism embraced photography with enthusiasm, and created some remarkable works in the medium. They recorded the realities of street life and the underclass, and their dreams and nightmares as well. They used all the unique features of the medium to look at grit and turn it into fantasy.

Bibliography “Andre Kertesz“, 2010. Explore Photography. Web.

Brassai, 2010. Web.

Breton, Andre. “The First Manifesto of Surrealism.” Art in Theory: 1900-1999: An Anthology of Changing Ideas. Ed. Charles, and Woodll, Paiul Harrison. Oxford: Blackwell, 432-439.

Darwent, Charles. Well-chosen works show how De Stijl – ‘The Style’ – movement led to a revolution in European art that still resonates today: Van Doesburg

Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass – An American Slave Report

Nursing Assignment Help Introduction Douglass’s book, Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass- An American Slave, provides the best evidence about American slavery. In the book, Douglass gives vivid evidence that he was once a slave; a fact that was doubted by many critics due to his oration skills and impeccable language (Douglass 11).He also gives solid evidence of the inhumanity that was characteristic of this institution.

Douglss begins the book by giving a detailed description of his childhood life and the effects that slavery had on him as a child. He then goes on to give a detailed description of the brutality that was perpetrated against American slaves during his time as a slave. The book is filled with names, scenes and events which evidence its truthfulness. This paper is a description of the brutality that Douglas witnessed as a slave (Douglass 4).

Aspects of American slavery American slavery was characterized with many acts of inhumanity. Slaves were denied their rights to literacy, severely beaten, overworked in farms, provided with poor living conditions, abused sexually, separated from their families, killed, tortured psychologically and emotionally, dehumanized, etc. Let us have a look at the evidence of these acts of inhumanity portrayed in Douglass’s book.

Whippings The most portrayed act of inhumanity is the frequent beatings that were perpetrated on slaves. After Aunt Hester had gone out, she was severely beaten and caused to bleed profusely. All this was done because she was not there when the master “desired her presence” (Douglass 14).

This is an act of inhumanity because it appears that the slaves were “tethered” like livestock and were not free to attend their needs. Before the beating, she was stripped from her neck to the waist and then whipped severely. This can be seen as an indication that her master, Captain Anthony, was abusing her sexually. This claim is substantiated by the fact that Aunt Hester had gone out to see a male neighbor named Ned Roberts.

Captain Anthony was calling her a “b – – – – -b b – – – -h” (Douglass 14) as he whipped her. Captain Anthony got his name, presumably, from having sailed at Chesapeake Bay. Another evidence of beatings perpetrated on slaves is seen when Douglass is taken to the custody of Mr. Covey. He says that he was whipped every week until one day he collapsed while working in the farm. However, one day as Covey wanted to tie him for his weekly routine, Douglass protested and put up a fight. They fought for two hours until Douglass won the fight.

This can be seen as one of the things that encouraged Douglass to relentlessly fight against the institution of slavery. It is also the beginning of Douglass’s confidence in his manhood. This is because after the fight, he was never beaten again. Douglass also explains how his mother received frequent whippings for not being in the farm at sunrise since she travelled at night to see him (Douglass 12).

Get your 100% original paper on any topic done in as little as 3 hours Learn More If a slave committed major misdemeanors, tried to escape or opposed the authority of the overseers in the farms, he/she was exposed to severe beatings before being sold. There is also a woman who was whipped in the presence of her children, who were crying begging the overseer to stop whipping their mother. The woman is said to have been whipped by Mr. Severe in front of her children until her blood ran for almost thirty minutes (Douglas 17).

Psychological and emotional torture There is substantial evidence of psychological and emotional torture perpetrated on slaves by their masters. First of all, the separating of infants from their mothers before they were one year old amounts to emotional torture on both the mothers and their children. Douglass explains how his mother walked a distance of about twelve miles night after night to see him. This was after she was separated from him during his infancy (Douglass 12).

When his mother was sick and during her death, Douglass was not allowed to go and see her. Even when she died, he was not allowed to attend her burial. He says that his separation from his mother made him have no emotions for her such that her death hit him like the death of a stranger (Douglass 12). This is emotional torture perpetrated on Douglass. There is also the stated incidence in which a woman was whipped in front of her children (Douglass 17). This is emotional torture on the children.

An example of how slave-holders psychologically tortured their slaves is seen when Colonel Lloyd meets one of his slaves who speaks ill of him. After the incident, Colonel Lloyd postpones the punishment for this act until two weeks later. The delay of punishment can be seen as psychological torture on the slave (Douglass 34).

Sexual abuse Although Douglass does not give much evidence about sexual abuse, the reader is left to make his/her conclusions about this issue. First of all, Douglass’s father is said to be an unknown white man who is suspected to be his master. The fact that his father is unknown is a clear indication that his mother was sexually abused during his conception.

This is also evidenced by the fact that his master was the chief suspect. Since masters were never good to their slaves. It is apparent that Douglass’s mother was forced into having sex with the man who bore Douglass. Another evidence of sexual abuse perpetrated on slaves is seen when Aunt Hester is whipped. There was also the rule that children who were born by black women belonging to white fathers were to be regarded as slaves (Douglass 13).

This is enough evidence that the whites (masters) were sexually abusing slaves since for them to develop such a rule, there must have been several cases of children born by white men and black women. The rule is an indication that they had, kind of, legalized this behavior. It was also an evidence of the inhumanity that the masters had if they could send their own children to experience the woes of slavery.

We will write a custom Report on Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass – An American Slave specifically for you! Get your first paper with 15% OFF Learn More Poor living conditions The slaves were provided with very poor living conditions. After a very busy day with whippings, slaves had limited time for household chores and thus they lacked enough time to sleep. They all slept on cold floors covered with very poor blankets. Slaves were provided with clothes annually. This meant that when a slave missed clothes, he/she could stay with tatters for two years.

The clothes provided include two linen shirts, two linen trousers, one jacket, and another trouser for winter, a pair of shoes and stockings. Food was given on a monthly basis. Children of both sexes between the ages seven years and ten years were always naked. These were the characteristics of the “Great House Farm” (Douglass 17) which was the prestigious “workplace” of the slaves (Douglass 17). One wonders what the conditions of other lesser farms were.

Dehumanization There are many cases of dehumanization in Douglass’s book. First of all, the slaves were overworked in the field and they received severe beatings while working. The effect of this can be seen when Douglass was taken to Mr. Covey. He was overworked and whipped routinely until he lost consciousness while carrying out his duties in the field. Another evidence of dehumanization of slaves is seen when Douglass’s master dies. His death is followed by the inheritance of slaves along with livestock and other property (Douglass 16).

Other acts of inhumanity Other acts of inhumanity in the book include the jailing of Douglass and his friends after an attempted escape. Additionally, while Douglass was working as a Caulker in Baltimore, all his wages were given to his master, Auld. The slaves were also denied their rights to literacy.

However, Douglass beat the system and found his ways of attaining literacy. His literacy contributed greatly to his fight against slavery (Douglass 15). There is evidence that some slaves were killed for no apparent reason. This is evidenced in the description of the character of one of the overseers of Douglass’s master named Mr. Plummer. He is said to have been beheading women slaves (Douglass 13).

Conclusion Many people doubted that Douglass was a slave due to his language skills but his book gave the proof that he was actually a slave. His description of the events and the environments of American slavery is filled with a lot of evidence of truthfulness inform of names.

Among the names of places that are repeatedly mentioned in this book are the “Great House Farm” (Douglass 17), the Chesapeake Bay, the Baltimore, etc. On the other hand, events that are highlighted in this book are all meant to show the suffering of the slaves. These events include the singing of the slaves, who worked in the “Great House Farm” (Douglass 17) and events during which slaves were tortured or mistreated.

The latter include the whipping of Aunt Hester, the whipping of a woman in front of her kids, the collapsing of Douglass while working on the field and his subsequent fight with Mr. Covey, the whipping of Douglass’s mother in the morning after failing to make it to the farm by sunrise etc (Douglass 12-17). All these events are meant to show the brutality that was perpetrated against American slaves.

Not sure if you can write a paper on Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass – An American Slave by yourself? We can help you for only $16.05 $11/page Learn More Works Cited Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass-An American Slave. U.S: Yale University, 2001. Print.