Judy to Garry, a personal letter from The Garry Winogrand exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Arte

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Now through September 21 the Metropolitan Museum of Art hosts the Garry Winogrand retrospective, an exhibition featuring over 175 photographs, 60 of which have never been seen by the public. Over the course of his short life, which ended at the age of 56, Winogrand shot thousands of rolls of film.  Many of them he marked for printing but never printed, some thousands he never saw. One of the original "street photographers," Winogrand was compelled by the act of taking an image rather than the editing and printing processes. To give further insight into the life and career of one of the most prolific photographers of the 20th century, the exhibition also includes an interesting assortment of personal items including marked contact sheets, correspondence, drawings and portraits. 

In one case, a photograph of Garry Winogrand and Diane Arbus lies next to a red marked contact sheet. Directly opposite this pair is an image of a smiling woman seated in a typical 1960's office. An electric orb reveals arms folded atop a large typewriter with one slender leg visible beneath a solid and unremarkable secretary's desk. Beside her is a typewritten letter, with "Judy to Garry" scrawled in green pen above the typed text, probably by a family member.  Beside this title "Garry to Judy" was scratched out in the same shade of green.  Considering the content, it is surprising that anyone could read this and mistake the author.  In any case, this letter was indeed written by the woman in the photo, Judy Teller, to her husband Garry Winogrand. The second of three wives, Teller's note is a portrait of the man she knew, written at the time of his second Guggenheim Fellowship and on the subject of his perpetual financial strain. Here is an argument on behalf of spouses of struggling artists, written in a coherent style that makes reference to her "analyst" almost comical.  "Now, Judy, what would you say to Garry if he were sitting here, right now?  Type it and set yourself free."  Within lie parentheses commas etceteras and underlines to give active character to her frustrations: with those artistic compulsions that expend energy and provide no tangible recompense, with grandiose dreams made of nothing but air to fill empty champagne flutes and phantom promises of a child filled future built on an untenable present.  As I read this letter again and again an older woman sidled next to me to do the same. Perfectly coiffed and smelling of lavender blue eyes on fire and bright red lips that elongated with every sentence. She turned to me and remarked laughingly  "I used to date a photographer, and this sounds about right." The letter is included below in full, with text copied from a photograph of the letter on display:

"Dear Garry, this is to set the record straight.  Since you seem to have a great deal of difficulty keeping certain hard facts in mind as a basis for discussion, and also since you show no desire for rational discussion, maybe this will help you. (As for my tone of voice, I have been trying for the last year and a half to discuss and re-solve our differences in what has been, for at least a good part of the time, a normal tone of voice. To no avail.)
I would like to have children.  For the past four years, I have heard you spewing out grandiose dreams (i.e. the big new year’s eve party in the big studio, the big money, gigantic success at money making opportunities, etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc.) Followed by the feeble attempts (or no attempt at all) to realize those dreams. I am now almost twenty-eight. The time I have to wait while you bumble is nearly exhausted.  The question, moreover, is not whether you can make a large fortune. The question is whether you can make a decent living.
Including the payment of my analyst bill. (In our culture, men are expected to provide the woman they marry with their necessities.  I would say it’s magnanimous on my part to be asking for this for a limited time: the time during which we might have and raise two children to school age.)  But my analyst bill is not event relevant at this point. What is extremely relevant is the money you owe the government in back taxes. Your inability to pay the rent on time. Your constantly running out of money. Your credit rating. And most of all, your flippant, irresponsible, nonsensical attitude toward all these very real problems.  (“I’ll wait till the government catches up with me. Why should I pay them now?”) You seem to be incapable of exercising you mind in any cogent way.  If you did, I think you might arrive at the conclusion that while your tax money is outstanding, the penalties and interest on it are increasing.  The earlier you can pay it, the less you’ll have to pay.  Further, you might have thought of the possibility in which the government calls you later and you have no money. Neither one of us is very naïve, now, about the amount of money you manage to have available to you."

natalie renee x factotvm




seven year itch

THERE is perhaps nothing more elemental to living as air.  

Air creates motion and sustains life; without it, everything is still.  Be it a whisper or a gust, it is a force that cannot be seen by the naked eye, yet has the ability to transform the ethereal into the visual and the visceral, making it a fascinating study.  These images aim to convey the power of a force that can only be felt, and seeks to explore implications and trans-portability into design, structure and building.  Exploring the movement of air in the bowels of New York City's subway system, its ventilation network, the movement of the trains and the direction of drafts.  Examining the causes and effects of the force of those movements – how they lift objects, lower them, or even swirl them around.  In so doing, it will raise questions and possibilities about the materiality of buildings in the study of architecture. 

What if the effects of force on buildings were as predictable or unpredictable as air on material?  In considering the impact of, say, a gust of wind under a billowing piece of fabric, we could start to envision how buildings and cities might react in response to the specifications of both their location and function.  In the end, the goal of this project is to build a program of form, material and performance. And it all starts with the accidental up-skirting of a sexy screen siren.  Blow by blow, page by page, these renderings will convey the associated erotic qualities of the fleeting glimpse and cheeky peek as air ebbs and flows.  All the figures in these images are alive. They are either standing or walking, but they are all subject to forces. Around them, the city is also alive with neon lights flickering and cars honking. 

I am searching for an architectural possibility that is also equally alive.

- mena henry x factotvm