Sunday, September 26, 2010

When Life Gets in the Way of Art - NYTimes.com

When Life Gets in the Way of Art - NYTimes.com

It was revealed recently that Ernest C. Withers, who photographed images of the Little Rock integration battle, the Emmett Till trial, and many more scenes from the civil rights era, was a paid informant for the FBI.

This article brings up issues regarding artistic intent and integrity related to Withers, artist Larry Rivers and joaquin Phoenix and Casey Affleck.

From what I've read about the Withers revelations, a lot of people are shocked and feel betrayed by what he did. On the other hand, do his actions as a paid informant change the work itself? Do his photographs now lose any artistic revelance because of his personal dealings with the government? I don't think so. A good photograph is still a good photograph, regardless of the circumstances. As documents of a social movement, however, they are now recast in another light altogether-that of evidence of a betrayal of trust.
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