New York

Lee Friedlander, Tokyo, Japan, 1979, black-and-white photograph.

Lee Friedlander, Tokyo, Japan, 1979, black-and-white photograph.

Lee Friedlander

MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

Lee Friedlander, Tokyo, Japan, 1979, black-and-white photograph.


Walking with a friend through the Lee Friedlander retrospective at MOMA, I noticed that the two of us each had a different way of looking at almost every early street photograph on view: One of us saw the photograph a certain way right off the bat and couldn’t easily see it otherwise, while the other noticed everything else in the photo and could only see the “hook” after having it pointed out. What in one viewing looked like Americanized pieces of Cartier-Bresson poetic doubling in another couldn’t be disentangled from a set of densely stratified spatial and perceptual conundrums that at once posit the transparency of photography and question it at every level.

Take a 1964 photograph, Rome, Italy. My interlocutor saw right away in that photograph a juxtaposition of gestures that I missed entirely until he pointed it out to me: the everyday body language of the apparently sleeping

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