In Lost Persons/Pasadena, 1963, the contrast between the three women, who are presumably waiting for the people from whom they’ve been separated, is amusingly familiar. One looks anxious, another nonplussed. A third is matter-of-factly and nonchalantly putting a jacket on her sleeping toddler. She may not be lost at all.
The intersection of this photograph’s text and figures, however, is both humorous and ominous. While the women’s suburban dress may suggest a generally comfortable existence, the ways in which they defensively and disapprovingly cross their arms over their chests convey unease. With the violence of the civil rights movement raging and U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War escalating, the phrase “LOST PERSONS” can be read as a comment on the tumult of American life in the early 1960s and what photo historian Keith Davis describes as a collective impression that the nation was spinning out of control.
MD, PHOTOdocument exhibition, March 30, 2012-July 22, 2012
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