One more visitation to MOMA and the Robert Frank The Americans exhibit. The Americans has been a powerful photo book to me for many, many years. My 1969 soft cover edition, bought used when a student in High School, is still with me … much thumbed, much pored over. Unforgettable to the mind of a late baby boomer.


I’d been through the exhibit several times and finally arrived at the end again, where one of Robert Frank’s short movies was playing in a loop in a darkened space. “The deconstruction of The Americans” or something like that. The effect was mesmerizing, thrilling. People would come and go in this dark space, watching intently for a few moments, then getting up and sidling off. I stood to the rear and watched. 

This couple, mother and daughter I believe, came into the space and sat down, ignoring the film. They chatted for several minutes, through two showings at least. And then, finally, the film looped once more and caught their attention. 

One sat, one stood, and they watched. They didn’t move much, they’d commanded the room as their own and the film held them. At the end of the second loop they watched through, I remembered I had the Rollei 35 with me, pulled it out, set a “hit and hope” exposure, and released the shutter. I could barely see the numbers on the camera dials. As I wound the film to try another frame with a stop longer exposure time, both women stood up abruptly and strode off into the museum. 

The frame looked so thin on film I thought it was a goner, but scanned it anyway. I’m glad I did. 


I posted a few more of this roll’s frames to flickr in the set “MOMA 2009”. I might post a few more yet, there are some I haven’t rendered yet. Enjoy them.