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Nova, October 1969 © 1969 The Estate of Diane Arbus, LLC

Uncovering the Subcultural Layer

What is hidden underneath this bodily surface layer? What so enticed Diane Arbus? In an interview, the photographer’s ex-husband, Allan, said, “Diane was deeply moved by the subjects of her photographs, and she treated them almost piously. Diane was enticed by their self-image, which contrasted so much with the image in which they were perceived by the world.” It’s possible that Arbus possessed the unique ability to approach various types of “outsiders,” to establish contact with them, on account of the emotional tangles within herself. And she was prevented from untangling them by her episodic bouts of depression. Yet it would be too simplistic and unwarranted to draw these parallels. Just as it is to politely avert your eyes in society from these “freaks,” thinking that to do so is best.

In the picture above: Nova, October 1969, People Who Think They Look Like Other People © 1969 The Estate of Diane Arbus, LLC

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Diane Arbus, Jewish Giant at Home, 1970