March 14, 2005

Fitting the Fabric


If my tendency is to overanalyze a photograph, it feels like this portrait of Mahmoud Abbas on the latest NYT Magazine cover has lent some brakes.

I’ve been looking at it off and on since Sunday, and I still haven’t grown tired of it.  However, I also can’t pin down exactly what is so compelling.  (Which is why I’m particularly interested in reading what you come up with.)

If you’ve been hanging around the BAG, you know I tend to get in a little deep over formal elements.  In this shot, though, it seems that Abbas really strikes me.  His look is so bona fide.

I wish I knew more about Middle Eastern textiles and designs.  The contrast between the rich pattern and texture of carpet and drape — with Abbas forming a bridge — seems so illustrative of the opposing cultures that demand his navigation.

Finally, I’m fascinated with the base carpet.  That’s the strip of material that lines the wall in place of a base board.  It’s easier to see in print, but the way it’s attached is far from elegant.  To the right of Abbas, in fact, the edge metal pulls away from the wall revealing a black hole. 

Maybe the pulling away of edges is an appropriate metaphor for the way Israeli’s and Palestinian’s tend to intersect.

(image: Taryn Simon for The New York Times)

Post By

Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

The Big Picture

Follow us on Instagram (@readingthepictures) and Twitter (@readingthepix), and


A curated collection of pieces related to our most-popular subject matter.


Comments Powered by Disqus