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Amy Arbus, “The Inconvenience of Being Born,” Stephen Cohen Gallery.

Babies R-Us

I once took a photography class in which the professor vehemently warned against the hazards of photographing three subjects: puppies, kittens and babies. It was impossible, he said, to make images that would not be repetitions of the most cloying sentimental clichés. In her new book and show at the Stephen Cohen Gallery, The Inconvenience of Being Born, Amy Arbus has gone where others dare not tread. She’s been photographing newborns up-close and personal for a couple of years. These full-figured faces fill her frame and look not so much like sweet new persons just arrived in the world, as like very old souls, cynical, angry, wise and wry, far beyond the short time they have been on this planet. Indeed, Arbus’ babies show us humans what we are, and in the same moment what we are destined to become. 

Ann Marie Rousseau is a photographer and writer living in New York and Southern California. She can be reached at amrousseau@mindspring.com and is wildly appreciative of any and all who wish to comment.
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