11 October 2011

Interview: Mel Rosenthal

Q. ~ Do you consider yourself a leftist?

A. ~ I’m not a leftist. My father said to me: “When I die, I will not have any money; no belongings. The only thing I will have is to tell you, ‘When you come onto this earth, there is no justice, no fairness.’ ”

You can call this leftist, but I call it being objective.

I used to say, “I just want to overthrow the government.” That was a mistake; not the right thing to say. Times change and they change in difficult ways. Not knowing what to do about it, I go back to simple stuff — which is, I hope, to make photographs thinking about truth and justice.

This is a good bit from a short interview with photographer/teacher Mel Rosenthal that you can find here at The New York Times today. His approach to residents of the communities where he worked reminds me in many respects of Milton Rogovin and that is a high compliment. In any case, Rosenthal is retiring after four decades of teaching at Empire State College.

NOTE: "His farewell exhibition and party will be held Tuesday, Oct. 11, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at 325 Hudson Street. True to form, the public is invited. Free." That is this evening in NYC.

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