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Entries in photography (4)

Monday
Jun222009

Hands of Gemini 7: Marilyn Monroe

Leaving her handprints in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater, after the filming of Gentlemen Prefer Blonds, in which she figures as one of a pair (with Jane Russell), bon vivante and gender-bending. Granted, the hand is not the first body part one associates with Monroe, nor is Gemini the sign one might guess for her.  Yet that might be the very disjunction that explains her anguish. She gave herself to the camera, that is, to the state of being duplicated and multiplied, promiscuously and compulsively. Hedda Hopper, herself a Gemini (and note that both ladies rechristened themselves with alliterative names, gracing their self-created identities with the primitive charm of doubleness), observed Monroe's relation to the camera:

“No one in my memory hypnotized the camera as she did. . . In her brain and body the distinction between woman and actress had edges sharp as razor blades. Off camera she was a nervous, amazingly fair-skinned creature almost beside herself with anxiety about her roles, driven to seek relief in vodka, champagne, sleeping pills—anything to blunt the pain of her existence. When the camera was there she became an actress, using her eyes, her hands, every muscle in her body to court and conquer the camera as though it were her lover, whom she dominated and was dominated by, adored and feared.”   ---Hedda Hopper, The Truth and Nothing But (sic)

MM & HH: 2 Geminis and a mirror

As a hypermediated Gemini she was also a reader, fully entitled to wear glasses without joking. She married a writer, after all, not a bodyguard or back-up dancer. She was continually communicative, on the phone, kept in touch with everybody, even her distant half-sister, who wrote a book about her.

As Geminis do, she paired off with other Geminis.  Most memorably, Tony Curtis, JFK, and Joyce Carol Oates.Two Geminis with cameras

 

Gemini JFK avoided being caught in a photo with her, save in this rare shot taken on the sly, which includes the bonus features treasured by Gemini watchers: the Brother and the Library.

Two Geminis with phone

Gemini novelist Joyce Carol Oates announced Marilyn as her alter-ego or secret twin in the jacket art of her novel BLONDE, which had the working title of GEMINI, and is full of reflections on Gemini, including an extended fantasy of a sexual relationship between Monroe and a pair of handsome twins. A powerful chapter treats the occasion on which Monroe sang Happy Birthday to JFK. Years later tragic history repeated itself as farce when Gemini opera singer Beverly Sills sang Happy Birthday to Gemini Henry Kissinger.

(found stereogram)

(photo by Milton H. Greene)

 

reading Ulysses

Friday
Jun192009

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.

 

Tuesday
Jun162009

HANDS OF GEMINI 3: HEARTFIELD

John Heartfield, German photomontagist, born 19 June 1891.

 

Go here for some hands by E. M. Lilien

Tuesday
Jun162009

Hands of gemini 2: Uelsmann

Gemini photographer Jerry Uelsmann (b. June 13, 1934) characteristically works with double exposures, multiple negatives and mirrorings, all Gemini themes . .  and, of course, hands.