Walker Evans, "My task... is, before all, to make you see."

 

This is a Walker Evans photograph taken in the winter of 1938 as he rode the New York subways.Take some time to read the text, if you can, as I believe the work of this photographer and his friend the great american writer, James Agee can help us deal with the America we live in today. This is from the book "Walker Evans edited by Clement Cheroux" copyright 2017 Centre Pompidou, Paris, and Prestel Verlag, Munich. London, New York. I have included part of the text below from the four paragraphs above...

 

" Those that use the New York subways are several millions. The facts about them are so commonplace that they have become almost as meaningless, as impossible to realize as deaths in a war. These facts: who they are, and the particular thing that happens to them in a subway need brief reviewing, and careful meditation.

    They are members of every race and nation of the earth. They are of all ages, of all temperaments, of all classes, of almost every imaginable occupation. Each is incorporate in such an intense and various concentration of human beings as the world has never known before. Each, also, is an individual existence, as matchless as a thumbprint or a snowflake. Each wears garments which of themselves are exquisitely subtle uniforms and badges of their being. Each carries in the postures of his body, in the hands, in the face, in the eyes, the signatures of a time and place in the world upon a creature for whom the name immortal soul is one mild and vulgar metaphor.

    The simplest or the strongest of these beings has been so designed upon by his experience that he has a wound and a nakedness to conceal, and guards and disguises by which he conceals it. Scarcely ever, in the whole of his living, are the guards down. Before every other human being, in no matter what intimate trust, in no matter what apathy, something of the mask is there; before every mirror, it is hard at work, saving the creature that cringes behind it from the sight that might destroy it.  Only in sleep (and not fully there); or only in certain waking moments of suspension, of quiet, of solitude, are these guards down; and these moments are only rarely to be seen by the person himself, or by any other human being."

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