Author: Matthew Friedman

The Oculus: Santiago Calatrava’s Space of Alienation

The Oculus at World Trade Center in New York is a genuine, honest-to-god tourist attraction, at the same level as the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty and to be honest, a couple of steps above the Brooklyn Bridge and Grant’s Tomb. Visitors from around the world gather in its main concourse amid a chatter of hundreds of different languages, and look up in awe. “It’s amazing!” “C’est merveilleux!” “Alguna vez has visto algo así?” “Das ist wie ein riesiges Raumschiff!” The Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava’s vast design is certainly visually arresting; it was meant to be, to...

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Fishermen of the Hudson

On any given morning, there is a trail of fish parts and entrails leading along the Liberty State Park boardwalk on the western bank of the Hudson river. The New York City skyline glows in the Golden Hour light like a picture postcard. A fish head here – its eyes gnawed out by the wheeling gulls – a fin or a tail there: the trail leads to a group of men waiting for the Atlantic tides to come in. They are the Fishermen of the Hudson. Frank has been fishing these waters for the last five years, as he...

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Henri Cartier-Bresson: India in Full Frame

If there is anything human to remember of the 20th century when its last survivors have finally died, it will likely be remembered through the frame of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s viewfinder. Armed with a 35mm Leica camera and an unerring eye, Cartier-Bresson sought to capture the “decisive moment” of history and humanity, from a Gestapo informer exposed at the Dessau DP camp in 1945 to a couple leaning into a kiss at a Paris sidewalk café. Cartier-Bresson’s photography framed the 20th century with expansive depth of field, capturing the historic and the intimate in the sharpest possible focus. His great...

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The White Poppy

November 11 is a day of great significance for me; a day of reflection, sorrow and gratitude. At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month every year, I stop whatever I am doing and mark two minutes of silence. If I am able, I  do this while I watch the Remembrance Day commemoration at the Cenotaph in Ottawa on the CBC. I do this, in part, for deeply personal reasons. My late father served in the Royal Canadian Air Force, along with his sister and two brothers, during World War II. My maternal grandfather had...

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An Incomplete History of Protest at the Whitney Museum of American Art

The power of the artist, according to Herbert Marcuse, is to “to name the otherwise unnameable.” An Incomplete History of Protest, currently on exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, is a powerful reminder of that for our dark times. Drawing on its own collections, the Whitney has assembled an extensive survey of American political art from the 1940s to the present that addresses the question of how generations of American artists have confronted issues of injustice and oppression and named the unnameable. The answer seems to be “with rage, hope, grief, commitment and, above...

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