In her diaries, early 20th century printmaker Blanche Lazzell wrote that her thoughts weren’t intended for anyone’s eyes but hers and that after her death she wished her journals burned. Sorry, Blanche, your wish didn’t come true. All your private musings ended up in the Smithsonian Archives of American #Art for anyone to read, along with the diaries of some three dozen other artists -- even including those found under lock and key, like the 54 diaries of sculptor Katharine Lane Weems. And get this, in order to break the seals, a curator at the Archives picked the locks with a paperclip. This information comes straight from the Smithsonian website, apparently unaware of its invasions. Sign of the times. As Mary Savig, curator of manuscripts at the Archives put it, “The idea of privacy in diaries is shifting.” Shifting, Mary? Sailed away is more like it. How else to explain all the reveries posted daily on Social Media sites?
Self-absorption on steroids
These day, no inch of inwardness goes without an airing, even without a trumpeting. #Artist Nan Goldin, an inveterate diarist since childhood, has said that her jottings are a form of control over her life – presumably over her art-making, too, having made a career out of revealing her private life in photographs. You can see many of these now in two New York shows: “Nan Goldin: The Ballad of Sexual Dependency” at the Museum of Modern Art (700 shots that narrate intimate experiences) and “Blood on My Hands” at the Matthew Marks Gallery, including four multiple shots taken at different times in different places, comingled on one picture plane. To tie the disparate images together, she used a single color, either blue, gold, pink or black. Clearly she feels the need to make her already provocative work more colorful. She did it at the MoMA show by having her experiences set to music.
Are there any lines we won’t cross anymore?
Of course, seeing private lives in picture form leaves room for viewers to look to their own memories. But specifying such things in writing not meant for the public is different. What, for example, would the exposure of more than two dozen steamy love letters that Frida Kahlo penned to fellow artist Joseph Bartoli while married to the very jealous Diego Rivera have done to her marriage? Bartoli coveted the letters and when he died, his family sold them at a public auction for a reported $137,000. And in all the publicity for the auction Kahlo’s love letters to Rivera also were aired, with her saying things like she was so overwhelmed with “great love” for him that she couldn’t put brush to canvas to paint him. Is this stuff really for public consumption? Is any of it? #Photography