American Girl in Italy, by Ruth Orkin
I first saw this photograph several years ago, hanging in my friend Spike's apartment. I did a double-take. It was like staring in a mirror.
Me (excitedly): "Hey Spike - doesn't the girl in this photo look exactly like me?!"
Spike (being his usual polite self): "Umm....kind of?"
Me: "Hey everybody - check it out - this girl looks exactly like me!"
Everybody: [indeterminate mumbling]
Ok, so not everyone agreed with my analysis. Although some friends (who were perhaps being kind and indulgent) did allow that I bore a (slight) resemblance to the American Girl (if only in that we both had a face, legs, hands, etc.)
Still, I would not be dissuaded: this American Girl was my doppleganger, strolling down Firenze's streets fifty years before me. The similarities were uncanny. I maintained this view throughout the years since.
Recently, though, I took another glance at the picture and didn't see the resemblance. At all! I couldn't recall why I thought she and I were so identical. I mean, sure - we both have a face, legs, hands, etc. But not much beyond that maps her features to mine.
This is significant of nothing, really, but it does make me wonder - what changed? Is it that I now have a clearer conception of what I actually look like? Or is it that my eyes view the photograph through different lenses - instead of seeing what I want to see, am I now seeing what is really there?
I have no answers. Just pondering art and perception on a Wednesday afternoon.