In Vogue

Richard Avedon made his rep as a fashion photographer, then segued naturally into a parallel career taking celebrity snaps. His palpably alive portraits comprise a big chunk of the stylish retrospective currently on display at the big house on Third St., but a particular facet — the artist’s social conscience — is largely downplayed. The concurrent film series, “Richard Avedon: Notes on Nothing Personal,” inspired by the shooter’s 1964 book with author and longtime friend James Baldwin, fills in the gap. From race relations to nuclear war, an eclectic cross-section of works revisits key '60s hot buttons. This week's “Program Three” salutes the determination of black Americans during the civil rights movement, from Malcolm X’s fiery proclamations to the stunning bravery of a Mississippi family. John Akomfrah’s Seven Songs for Malcolm X (1993) pairs primary source material with a quarter-century of emotional distance to revive a pivotal yet oft-misrepresented leader. Similarly, Chea Prince’s The Intolerable Burden (2003) combines oral history with historical perspective in its look back at Matthew and Mae Bertha Carter’s fateful 1965 decision to be the first (and only) black parents to enroll their children in a formerly all-white school. While Avedon was busy defining Vogue, the culture was shaping Avedon.
July 2-Aug. 29, 3 p.m., 2009

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