Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Star Spangled

By Jeffrey Lee

AUGUST 18, 1997:  Two of the most alarming photographic images in Shooting Stars are of embattled women. One woman is displayed on a French village square; she looks broken, humiliated. Another woman, mouth gaping in a frozen shriek, draws herself back as if to strike the first. It's not hard to know where to extend your sympathy--until you realize that the first woman is a captured Nazi informer, the second a patriot whom she has betrayed. In another photograph, an army of shadowy men encircles a woman whose spotlit face, in almost the only patch of light in the picture, is barely visible through a tiny, triangular breach in the overwhelming male crowd. She's Marilyn Monroe, in a still from the set of The Misfits.

Both images are Henri Cartier-Bresson's. Shooting Stars follows the progress of six photojournalists--Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, David Seymour, Burt Glinn, Phil Stern and David Sutton--from photographic action in WWII to the battlefields of Hollywood. It's an oddly logical progression. As the show's extensive text points out, Hollywood propaganda, produced in close collaboration with what was then bluntly called the War Department, played a central role in convincing the American public to support U.S. entry into the European war. These six men, who shared a radical political bent as well as a desire to document the events of their time, were as much recruits as volunteers. The Shooting Stars commentary also notes the McCarthy-era persecution of several of these photographers whose war efforts were later considered to have been a little too left-leaning.

The small, tight exhibition at 516 features rarely-seen images of frequently-seen faces--Brando, Bergman, Huston, Monroe--and of the War's dramatis personae, faces as expressive as they are, in most cases, anonymous. The odd mix of pictures shows Cartier-Bresson and company approaching both kinds of photography with prowess and passion.

--Jeffrey Lee

Shooting Stars runs through Aug. 30 at 516 Central SW. Call 242-8244.

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