FOX AMONG HEDGEHOGS


A single geranium blossom on a windowsill.
Philosopher Isaiah Berlin would call Rachel a fox among hedgehogs. She reads Latin, spins wool, makes the best fig jam and tends an organic garden. When she is not teaching at a grade school in Florida, she writes a delightul blog, Modo Vernant Omnia, where she discusses politics, literature, economics and art. Recently, she mentioned  her interest in Star Trek and Leonard Nimoy’s photography book, SHEKHINA. She compared Nimoy’s hauntingly beautiful photos with those of Mapplethorpe, whose work she admires.    Mapplethorpe’s oeuvre  is vastly unfamiliar to me. Once, I happened to glance at MAPPLETHORPE: PICTURES at  a New England bookshop whose owner did not believe in  shrink-wrapping controversial art.  My feeling at the time was that I had no reason to put its author  on my list of favorite photographers. I was then and continue to be a die hard fan of  Parisian  Cartier-Bresson,  the Hungarian masters Andre  Kertecz ( Kertesz Andor)  and the brothers Capa (Friedman)  and Brazilian Sebastiao Salgado

Nimoy’s SHEKHINA is a different story.  It purports to pay  homage to his Jewish Orthodox childhood and to the feminine aspect of G’d, a curious choice given that most Orthodox Jews whot find graven images unacceptable  are unlikely to  deem graven images of  semi-clad women an adequate representation of any aspect of  Shaddai .  But SHEKHINA is only one  just one of Nimoy’s projects. The one I like best is his Borghese series that deals with Canova’s sculptures of  Paulina Bonaparte Borghese.  His Hand series is as elegant and ethereal as the shots Stieglitz’ shots  of Georgia O’Keefe’s hands.
Whether Nimoy is a better photographer than he is an actor, I could not say.  Once I spent some time in the company a twice-Pulitzered photographer who told me that the difference between a good photographer and a bad one is that I good photographer hides his mistakes. He failed to convince me that one wins Pulitzer prizes by simply  hiding bad photos. Be that as it may, the difference between Nimoy’s acting and his photography is that the   playing Mr. Spock is an artistic straight jacket against. Pulitzer material or not, potography “contains many latitudes.”  In my opinion, SHEKHINA’s cover photo alone–a  woman wearing tefillin–is worth all episodes of Star Trek. Rachel will probably disagree. Then again, as a proper fox, she loves  both Nimoy as Spock and Nimoy as the translator of light and shadow into, er, poignant  art.
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