Gallery of Photography, Dublin
Expect to lose yourself in sad tears and laughter but find something of yourself in these images. When a photograph of the ubiquitous Marilyn Monroe can appear to be as if at first sight, there is little stronger testimony to the skill of Eve Arnold's photographic eye.
During the past four decades, Arnold has travelled the globe on assignments as diverse as following Malcolm X and the Black Muslim movement, to the kings and queens of the Hollywood star system, actual royalty and powerful figures from American and British politics. She has not only chosen stories in the news, but brought to light more invisible tales, like the plight of single women in the Western world, and the veiled existence of Tunisian women.
Arnold joined the now legendary Magnum collective when it was still a fledgling organisation headed by Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Capa, after an evening-class assignment published in London's Picture Post was spotted by the agency. Capa described her work as "falling between Marlene Dietrich's legs and the bitter lives of migrant potato workers," while Cartier-Bresson taught her that the time to turn away was at the point of death and the point of love.
"It was so free and easy then," she says while telling the story of shadowing the Queen for a week. "She had one bodyguard and I could do almost anything."
That Arnold places herself under the glare of personal scrutiny is indicative of the sensitive relationship she establishes between the camera and her subjects. After losing a baby, she came to terms with it through spending four months photographing infants in their first five minutes of life. "You can't stand back and pretend you don't know what is going on. You have to have a point of view. You're a human being first, and a photographer second," she says.
The gap between photographers working in the documentary tradition and artists using lens-based images is narrowing with the doyenne of modern photo-journalism now feted in a grand retrospective. Before viewing, remember her lesson number one: pay attention to the intrusion of the camera.
`'; Gallery Of Photography, Meeting House Square, Temple Bar, Dublin 2, Ireland (0035 31 671 4654). Admission free. To 31 JanReuse content