21st Century: Query 179 (Diane Arbus & Colin Wood)
In this iconic 1962 Diane Arbus Central Park photograph,
Colin Wood, a seven-year old boy, mugs for the camera.
He clutches a hand grenade in his right hand
and stiffens his left hand into a claw.
~ Diane Arbus was an American photographer. Arbus famously worked to normalize marginalized groups and highlight the importance of proper representation of all people. She worked with a wide range of subjects including members of the LGBTQ+ community, strippers, carnival performers, nudists, dwarves, children, mothers, couples, elderly people, and middle-class families.
How might Arbus’ assertion seem ironic and incongruent to what we generally assume about the power of the visual medium, for example, “A picture is worth a thousand words”?
How might “a thousand words” paint a fuller picture about a person via description, dialogue, and articulation of inner thoughts?
How is this 1962 photograph of 7-year-old Colin Wood seemingly out of place, space, and time?
What do the surface photographic characteristics reveal about the boy? Not reveal? Based on the surface characteristics, what socio-economic class might one assume about this boy? What does some cursory research reveal about the boy and the man that he became? Is the answer surprising? Why or why not?
What secrets might the boy be hiding from his family, the photographer, camera, on-site observer, and viewer?
What details might the viewer be able to suss out about the boy based on his body language, appearance, body characteristics, and clothing? Is he a happy boy just mugging for the camera, or does his demeanor reveal a darker side to him, and, perhaps, his family life? Explain.
Some details about Colin Wood: