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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Twentyninth day of Lent: Getting the picture


3/27
It’s nearly noon and Wesley and Antonia are still in front of the church, blocking the doors and spilling into the street, early blocking the sidewalk with almost an apartment’s worth of stuff. As I approach  and say, Wesley, Antonia....she drops what she’s carrying  and goes running down thr street. Wesley says, now look what you’ve done, you’ve scared her off and goes running down the street to catch her, their  apartment’s worth of stuff  still in front of the church. 
I realize soemone’s beside me and find Elizabeth, the free lance Fulbright photographer who had  come in to the church last winter  to photograph occupiers, hopin gto be published  in the New York Times Metro setion.  She’s finally back to catch up.

Wesley returns, angry with total frustration. What am I supposed to do? he asks, what am I fuckin supposed to do? You don’t fuckin give a shit, you don’t fuckin care , all you care about are your motherfuckin church doors..
No, Wesley, I do care, but you can’t be here all day, closing  off our doors...not to the church or anything else ..... look around, it just doesn’t work.
And he’s got his own litany of working, trying to keep her safe, no place to  sleep or even rest...shelters won’t allow them to be together, though anyone can see they go together...an insearable pair...says he’s got an open case with Goddard-Riverside and they don’t do shit...
in the midst of this monogue, a police cruiser draws up. Two precint 24’s, a man and a woman, step out and ask Wesley what’s going on. He goes through the same rap again. The male cop is all been there, done that. Clearly heard it all before. He does come across as legitimately caring. And may be as frustrsted as Wesley. Says he’ll check back later, try to help him out. Wesley just throws up his hands in desperation, OK, OK man, I’m gettin out, Im gettin out..
I take Elizabeth to Popover’s to give Wesley timeand to catch up with her. Her frustration is finding a publisher for her work. The Times didn’t feel her quiet and introspective look into the occupiers fit thier story line. In addition to the occupy project, she’s got several others, mainly concnerning women and war, and is about to speak to a comverence about her Fulbright work in Bangladesh. She wants to know what’s been going on. She talks about having to carve out a unique space as a journalist because she’s so short,she can’t shoot over people’s heads in crowds. So she wants to slow the story down, get below the surface  narrative. Make it personal. And so she takes time to get to know. She talks  about her nights at West-Park, slowly getitng to know people. Not attempting to  intrude or push into their space. Finally,the formal, seated portrait idea emerging.
She aks me how I feel about mine. I look worn and tired, I say, amazing how it captures how I felt that week. She says that friends who see the portraits say mine is their favorite. Don’t know how to take that. But I appreciate it. I still want to do an exhibit of her Bengladeshi photos. For someone so young, she’s got a piecing yet caring eye that searches  into evrything , wanting to understand. Seeing through her eyes adds to my understanding.
We walk back to the church to see if anybody wants to see their portraits, She sets up her laptop. Surprising how many have gone, gone for one reason or another. She wants to come back to the church and do portraits of those she  missed last time around, like Teddy , Requiem, Runi..it’s just finding the right time..
Sh’ll be back over the next couple of days. We talk about the current media reality whereby anything that does not stay within the given narrative is excluded. Control of the narrative still oin the hands of the powerful. Creating new narratives has to push its way in from the margins. 

To see Elizabeth's work:   http://www.elizabethdherman.com/
To read about Elizabeth's nights at West-Park see 1/26 and 1/27

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