Liebling Revisited

Some posts just get away, falling into the cracks in my computer system and my failing memory. Often I’ll see something and make a quick note, perhaps save a link as a draft post in WordPress, or in the text editor I usually write with – a kind of beefed up Notepad, which allows me to work on several documents but doesn’t add  the kind of formatting that word processors do, making it easier to paste text into various applications. I’ll save the draft or the text file, intending to come back to it later. But later is usually after I’ve been out taking pictures, and by the time I’ve finished dealing with these and writing the captions and text I’ll have forgotten all about the draft I wrote before I went out.

So I saved a draft a couple of weeks ago, and then came across it today, about an article on the New York Times Lens Blog, Look Again, With Love and Liebling, by James Estrin.

Well for me it was looking again, as I think all the pictures (certainly almost all) are in Jerome Liebling’s 1995 Aperture book The People, Yes which I have on a shelf downstairs. Its title comes from that of Carl Sandburg’s epic 300 page poem, published in 1936,  inspired by the the language and lives of ‘ordinary people’ in the economic and social upheavals of the 1930s, and Liebling’s work reflects a similar social and political outlook, reflecting his photographic studies with Walter Rosenblum and membership of the New York Photo League. I’ve written about Liebling in the past, but there was a good obituary with some details by Sean O’Hagan in The Guardian in 2011.

The Lens blog was published shortly before the end of a show of Liebling’s work at the Steven Kasher gallery in New York, which you can read more about on the Jerome Liebling web site. On the videos page there you can listen to him talking about his work and the people in his photographs:

“There are no superiors, I think we’re all about the same, but there certainly are advantages in life, and money and who writes the history ..  so I suppose I’m saying these are valuable people…”

He goes on to talk about his work as showing “the politics of everyday life” and the idea that going to look at the work should get people to challenge their ideas.

You can also read an interesting piece by Randy Kennedy in the New York Times in 2006, The Still-Life Mentor to a Filmmaking Generation which looks at Liebling’s influence on documentary film through his teaching in which “he tried mostly to impart a deep suspicion of dogma, of piousness and of the compromises that can lie just beneath the surface of American culture.”

One Response to “Liebling Revisited”

  1. […] a year ago I wrote a post Liebling Revisited, prompted by an article that had appeared in the New York Times Lens blog.  And today I find […]

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