"The hero is the true subject of modernism," said Walter Benjamin, and the modern hero/warrior/survivor has proliferated in our cultural proscenium. In incarnations from the Oliver North hearings of last summer to the uneasy, celebratory struggles in cinema to define a new, reconstituted, post-Vietnam notion of heroics, the hero’s cyclic resurgence—born of necessity, called by destiny—might be read as the harbinger of an apocalyptic future, or as reassurance that intervention will continually triumph.
The Hero can be Poet, Prophet, King, Priest or what you will, according to the kind of world he finds himself born into. —Thomas Carlyle One murder made a villain, millions a hero. —Beilby Porteus None but the brave deserves the fair. —John Dryden In short, he was a perfect cavaliero, And to his very valet seem'd a hero.
Willis Hartshorn: What were your expectations in going to Southeast Asia? Bill Burke: It was to see what I hadn’t seen and to take pictures, to go someplace that was unfamiliar, where I didn’t know what I was looking at, where everything was new.
The present situation with regard to “national defense,” as I believe that we citizens are now bidden to understand it, is that we, our country, and our governing principles of religion and politics are so threatened by a foreign enemy that we must prepare for a sacrifice that makes child’s play of the “supreme sacrifices” of previous conflicts.
Here are the boys who join the ARMED FORCES-the re cruits. It's the middle of the day and we are on base with them. Air Force planes fly overhead in uniform patterns. Guys run to get into uniform lines. We are in the middle of a commercial for the ARMED FORCES.
Stars and stardom were at one time a source of energy in the culture. After all, America invented the modern idea of the star; it is no coincidence that the closing of the American frontier at the end of the nineteenth century opens onto the modern conception of stardom.
Dreaming, we are heroes. Waking, we invent them. Conscious, unable to recreate the universe according to the patterns of desire, we require heroes to redeem a fallen world. Seductive figures, bold and daring, heroes promise power to the weak, glamour to the dull, and liberty to the oppressed.
Every mythology has its version of the “Hero and his Road of Trials,” in which a young man, too, receives a “call.” He travels to a distant country where some giant or monster threatens to destroy the population. In a superhuman battle, he overcomes the Power of Darkness, proves his manhood, and receives his reward: a wife, treasure, land, fame.
If the decline of the Western deprived American movies of what was once their preeminent ideological mode, ideology itself has scarcely vanished. Not since the Nixon-era cop-and-vigilante cycle has the action film become so blatant an arena for political wish fulfillment.
THE PHOTOGRAPHS OF JOSEF ALBERS: A Selection from the Josef Albers Foundation
Published in conjunction with the exhibition “The Photographs of Josef Albers,” curated by John Szarkowski and organized by the American Federation of Arts, it was made possible by a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
AN ENDURING GRACE: THE PHOTOGRAPHS OF LAURA GILPIN
"An Enduring Grace: The Photographs of Laura Gilpin," an exhibition organized by the Amon Carter Museum in 1986, travels in 1987 to the Saint Louis Art Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts in Santa Fe, and in 1988 to the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson.
Photographs Which Falsify History by Alain Jaubert, Dedeaux Publishing, New Orleans, forthcoming in 1988. First published in France in 1986 under the title Le Commissariat aux Archives, Photographs Which Falsify History was a succès-scandale when exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, Paris last year.
ROBERT ADAMS is a photographer living in Colorado, whose books include From the Missouri West, Summer Nights, Our Lives and Our Children and Los Angeles Spring, all published by Aperture. JULIE AULT lives and works in New York City. She is co-founder of The Artists Collective Group Material.