Entries in Bourke-White (1)


Hands of Gemini 4: Bourke-White

A few Geminian images  taken by Margaret Bourke-White, (b. June 14, 1904). “What is amazing about Margaret Bourke-White's life is the number of opportunities she managed to get for herself. In photojournalism, getting where the action is, being there when it happens, is a major part of the talent and, ultimately, the achievement. And Bourke-White managed to get herself where things were happening when they were happening by working hard at being lucky and by her piercing intelligence and intuition. She was able to sense the potential of a great story and to get the editors of Life to transport her to the hot spot on time.  

    “An incredibly hard worker with legendary stamina and perseverance, she was also charismatic and, by all accounts, beautiful. Inevitably, people wanted to help her, giving her story leads and access. (And she apparently had a sixth sense about who would turn out to be useful to her.) Like most photographers, she had the ability to focus her personality on the getting of the photograph - by being persuasive, charming, persistent, manipulative, whatever it took. On top of all this, she had an exalted view of the role of the photographer as witness and felt that "getting there" and sending back the word was a privilege and duty. This messianic view of her job must have given her a lot of energy. (This wasn't as self-important an interpretation of the job of photojournalist as it might sound today: there was a world war raging, there was no television, no satellite transmissions to get the word out to the whole world within hours.)      . . . . Elsa Dorfman   Originally published in The Women's Review of Books, March 1997Further regarding Bourke-White: her gender bending, cross dressing, siblings, two marriages, and innumerable images of multitudes, transportation, flight, communicating, paired, iterating, signaling, etc. Her single most famous image is probably the photograph of Fort Peck Dam, which appeared on the cover of the inaugural issue of LIFE Magazine. Henry Luce, the editor/publisher of LIFE, was a Taurus. That photograph seems to me another representation of the Taurus/Gemini confrontation, wherein the first issue of the first photojournalistic organ declares the imposing compatibility of the ephemeral photograph and the most massive material manifestation of capital, or the mass-ness of the new mass media.