75 Reasons to Live: Iain Boal on Elaine Mayes

Iain Boal is a writer and historian. He’s speculating here (to quite a crowd) about the couple in Elaine Mayes‘s Interracial Couple and Baby, Golden State Park, August, 1968.


Remember the end of Manhattan, when Woody Allen asks himself what makes life worth living? Last January, during SFMOMA’s three day 75th anniversary celebration, 75 people from the Bay Area creative community gave extremely short talks—7.5 minutes or less!—on a single collection work of their choosing. Someone called it ‘manic splendor’—and it was. You can follow the 75 Reasons to Live talks as we post them by checking in here.

Comments (1)

  • It is interesting to hear Iain Boal’s commentary about my photograph. Although his speculations are provocative and apt, the subjects actually lived nearby. The image is from a series I made in 1967 and primarily 1968. I began this series as a reaction to the photojournalistic and sensationalized images of the Haight that were being presented by the press. I too was a member of the press at that time, living in the Haight and encountering the situation there on a daily basis, but I wanted to show a more ‘real’ and substantial vision of that particular time and place. Instead of a story-telling approach I used what I call a conceptual documentary approach, wherein through repetition of similar pictures, an idea of the whole could be constructed. This meant that the images were made to be seen as part of a group that would represent the whole, but I wanted each picture to stand on its own as well. I wanted to show the Haight for what it was rather than what it represented. My original title for the series was, “We Are the Haight Ashbury.”

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