I’m in the middle of reading a book on the 85% drop in homicide and other violent crime in NYC, written by a liberal professor at Berkeley. NYC proves that liberals were wrong in thinking that crime reduction required improved social conditions. Conservatives were wrong to think that incarceration was the only answer. Improved policing was a big part of the answer, and no one expected this.
As controversial as stop and frisk is, and it does seem to be a martial law exception to the 4th Amendment, you have to understand that while minority males bear the cost of it, they also receive the benefit of many fewer violent deaths and injuries, and over 100,000 fewer incarcerations. Who knew that under this ‘police state,’ the prison population has actually declined while rising in the rest of the country?
No one knows all the answers. NYC’s remarkable experience only raises questions. But how do you make art out of an intelligent and sophisticated understanding of social issues? Even Cartier-Bresson, who was a man of the world with a penetrating mind, had only the most superficial and biased understanding of the US.
Do artists have a responsibility to have a mature and informed understanding of the issues they are addressing in their art? Is such an art even possible? And what of democracy when few people have the energy to understand the complex and serious issues in modern society?
Perfection, from every angle (Yeats updated)
A woman’s intellect is forced to choose
Perfection of the bra, or of the phone,
And if it takes the second must refuse
Public exposure, typing in the street.
And when that text is finished, what’s the news?
Hookup or breakup, fingers leave their mark:
That old perplexity of last year’s phone
The contract still in place, perfection lost.
The intellect of man is forced to choose
perfection of the life, or of the work,
And if it take the second must refuse
A heavenly mansion, raging in the dark.
When all that story’s finished, what’s the news?
In luck or out the toil has left its mark:
That old perplexity an empty purse,
Or the day’s vanity, the night’s remorse.
In addition to being revealing, the sophistication and originality of the outfit is extraordinary. She combines a sweater skirt in English tweed, black floral print top, leather bag and black lace, with black shoes and white socks. I suspect many young men would be intimidated by her self-confidence, originality, and quite possibly intelligence.
The works on the walls:
Pryde deploys words and props—ribbon, string, and Mylar—to instill personality in the animals’ deadpan expressions but also plays with photographic conventions, manipulating the subjects through closeups, double exposures, and shifts in focus.
Actually, the works on the wall are relevant, to some small degree. MOMA says the photographer is in favor of liberating guinea pigs from research clinics, slaves and the bodies of women. One might think that this young woman is a more successful artist, on that front, than the photographer on the wall.