Author: Matthew Friedman

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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Your Neighborhood Fascists: an Alt-Right Bestiary

This has been the year of the Alt-Right. The appearance of battalions of torch-bearing white supremacists chanting “blood and soil” and “the Jews will not replace us” in Charlottesville in August appalled many Americans. The murder of Heather Heyer, allegedly by a white nationalist who had participated in the march, shocked many more from their complacency. Would-be homegrown Führer, Richard Spencer, and Christopher Cantwell, the “Crying Nazi,” became household names — the faces of a new, potent Fascist movement that appeared out of nowhere. Klansmen and goose-stepping Nazi brownshirts (or at least white polo shirts) were suddenly on the...

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Days of Future Past in Blade Runner 2049

Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner is an epochal film. Its arrival in 1982 marked a rupture in cinematic and literary science fiction narratives, and spoke simultaneously to the transnational consumer culture of the Age of Reagan and to the burgeoning punk-inflected spirit of anti-globalism. William Gibson sat in a dark movie theater that summer, about a third of the way through the manuscript of his first novel Neuromancer, watching Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard navigate through the lo-glow in the rainsoaked streets of 2019 Los Angeles, his senses assaulted by holographic come-ons, in search of something that might have been humanity. It was...

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