Frist Center Best of Photography and Film from Eastman House

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The Frist Center for the Visual Arts has opened The Best of Photography and Film from the George Eastman House Collection October 10, 2008–January 25, 2009.

There are so many images and so many stories told in this vast collection that return visits are encouraged. Worthy of mention is the audio tour that will help you through the stories of these images. Produced locally for the exhibit, the voices of local actors such as Denice Hicks, Mark Cabus and Pete Vann professionally add a 3rd dimension to the 2-D images. The audio tour is free to members and worth the extra $5 if you are not.

One of the images that resonates in the American conscious is the Eddie Abrams’ Street execution of a Viet Cong prisoner, Saigon, 1968. This Pulitzer prize winning photographer brought the third dimension of war to a generation. What I was surprised to see in this exhibit were the photos that Abram’s took a shutter moment before and after. This triptych was gripping to me.

The overwhelming since that the shutter’s on Abram’s 1968 non-digital captured his own shutters as the process rapidly occurred. They are simply titled:

1. before execution

2. execution

3. after execution

It is the third image that gripped me. The prisoner had fallen to the ground after the fatal shoot but his legs had not yet given way to the gravity. His head is out side of the frame as though Abrams’ adrenaline had moved him to the left away from the horror. It is the prisoner’s feet that drew my eye. His bare feet. His toes curled up in a grip as though in this moment of death he was tyring to hold on to the earth, even as his soul left his frame, just as his face had left the frame of the photographer’s lens.

See this photo and masterpieces of photography and film from throughout history at The Frist Center for Visual Art through Jan 25th.