I don’t enjoy cities, and 99% of the time I’m extremely glad that I don’t live in, or even very near one. Sometimes though, I trip across an article, or news report, or newspaper ad, or something pops up in a news feed somewhere regarding something grand in the city and for a moment I regret that I don’t kick myself into gear and get out more.
In this case, getting out would mean a flight to New York to take in an upcoming exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MOMA). I think that I was on Facebook, and just out of the corner of my eye I kept seeing something about “sisters” and “forty-years.” When I clicked the link, this article from the New York Times, came up.
Photographer Nicholas Nixon began taking black and white photographs of his wife and her three sisters almost forty years ago, in 1975. The result of the annual event is being highlighted as an exhibit at MOMA late next month. Although I won’t be there in person, the Times article linked above does show each of the pictures.
I think these photos portray an amazing history of four women; sisters who resemble each other enough that the viewer would assume familial ties, yet all showing subtle, individual differences in each photo. As you look at the pictures notice the eyes, the women’s mouths. I want to know what each woman is thinking each time her picture is taken. Many of the photos show what seems to be a hard edge, a stubbornness, a silent statement asking those looking into each face not to get too close. In others the hint of an upturned mouth. Some actually smile. I wonder if that day, or that year, was somehow better and allowed for more freedom in the women’s expressions.
Of course the physical changes are obvious. Age signs progress and become more prominent. The evidence of forty years is apparent in the photo from this year. There are a few places during the interview in the Times article that Nixon touches on aging, and feminine concerns, and the portrayal of these changes. It’s a little stereotypical, and from a male perspective insinuates that to be female is to be vain, but I want to look beyond those comments and just enjoy the photos for what they are.
If anyone has the opportunity to see this exhibit in person, please think about posting a follow-up to this post on your own blog. I would love to know what you think and how you feel and physically react upon seeing these prints. Even if you only have the opportunity to view them online as I did, let me know what sort of response they evoke in you.