Picks and Pans Review: The Indomitable Spirit
Produced as both a fund-raiser and a kind of morale-booster for the campaign against AIDS, this collection of 94 photographs is purposively indirect. Very few of the photos are of people who have the disease or of anything else directly related to it. The primary subject, rather, is hope.
The connection is strained at times, and the writer of the book's captions, freelance art curator Marvin Heiferman, frequently overdoes it. Of a wildly irrelevant advertising poster of pro-basketball player Mychal Thompson touting a brand of sneakers, he writes that the photographer, Jeff Koons, "reminds us that while athletic skill is still tied to heroism and mythology, our culture boosts indomitable spirits of sports into the realms of celebrity and finance as well."
Many of the photographs, however, fit the theme remarkably well, from the abstract bloom of Frank Majore's Poppies to Judith Ross's Little Boy with His Bike, showing a child daring to try to stand up on the frame of his bike while it's parked on its kickstand. Affecting too is Pete Turner's photo of the moon glowing in a purple-blue sky over Stonehenge. Powerfully illustrative of the book's purpose is Rosalind Solomon's shot of a woman standing on a beach in South Africa looking perfectly casual, though her right hand and foot are missing, lost to a shark attack.
Most touching, perhaps, is the very intent of the art and photography communities to use their talents as a weapon against the scourge that has so heavily affected them. As New York Times photography critic Andy Grundberg notes in his preface, the existence of such hope is itself a powerful force. (Abrams, paper, $24.95; part of the proceeds go to two AIDS-related organizations)
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