Wednesday, November 18, 2009

"Child with a toy Hand Grenade in Central Park" N.Y.C. 1960

“Child with a toy Hand Grenade in Central Park” N.Y.C. 1962
Many of Diane Arbus’s work shows the uniqueness of society and of the normal scale. Though with the photograph above called Boy with a toy hand Grenade is not a picture of someone that would be labeled as different. When I say different there is a fine line but the American society has created the definition of different and many of Arbus’s subjects in her work fall into that such as the dwarfs, midgets, homosexuals, nudist, and transvestites. In this photograph there is a young boy that is in Central Park in New York City. The boy is a petite young child with a crooked smile on his face. By seeing his face you can tell that he knew that there was going to be a picture taken. Seeing this you know that Arbus has become involved with her subject, which is what she usually does. Though you see what is in his right hand. The object that is in his right hand is why Arbus photographed him. It is the reason for controversy in the photograph.

Diane Arbus firmly believed that the more the subjects actively participate in the process the better the image will be. The young boy had a toy hand grenade in his hand. Arbus chose the boy because the irony of a lethal weapon being a toy. It may seem okay when you first view the photograph but Arbus wants you to look deeper into the picture, find the meaning. The boy being in New York Cities, Central Park is important “Each subject is photographed in an environment that is deliberate and expressive of the place in which the subjects are in” (Arbus 56). He being in such a big city is symbolic. The big city atmosphere has influenced the child. Also she is challenging how the world is turning, whether it is in a good direction or not. By viewing this photograph the society seems to be going into the wrong direction. A deadly weapon is being used lightly. A child is playing with a toy that symbolizes death and violence. Arbus disagrees with how the world going and is documenting it. Her work can relate to how society has moved to the worse. Violence is becoming acceptable “I want to show my viewers a powerful photograph and an experience; I want them to think about themselves and the world around us all” (Arbus 62). Arbus wants the viewer to question the boys life and theirs. She is acknowledging the crumble of society.

I chose this photograph because I think it is one of her most powerful photographs that she has ever taken. It is not as shocking to the eye at first but I believe the meaning behind it is very shocking. I found it interesting that Arbus could see how the world was going to a negative way of life. I myself can see that violence is much more acceptable to be viewed than it was 50 years ago with such things as movies and television. Having a young child playing with even a fake hand grenade is poisoning the young society from the beginning. During her time as an artist in the 1960’s it was a time of peace and freedom. Though seeing this challenges if things really are moving towards the better. Arbus see’s that we need to change out young society first before we can move forward to a better lifestyle for all.

Arbus, Diane. Diane Arbus: Revelations. New York City: Random House, 2003.

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