The people whom Arbus photographed were probably separated from their families when they were born. Their mothers and fathers were most likely told that they would be too much of a burden to raise. However, none of this is really what we are supposed to be thinking about when viewing the Untitled series. We are told to think about the compositional choices, the lighting, the true talent of Arbus who discovered these subjects.
In silence, the women gather. Girls draw together, jostling to get in front of the camera, but once they are there they don’t know how to behave. One chews her hair, the other gesticulates, losing her cool out the ends of her fingers, she fans them like a child searching blind-mole for a lost toy. A woman’s face has collapsed. A mother searching for a lost child. As she speaks of him she strokes her hand against her own cheek.
The spindly stalks creep out from the nexus of the composition like arachnid extremities. The pronounced compression of space pushes the roughly hewn roots into the forefront for the beholder’s contemplation. The sharp points and scraggly edges of the root system prevent easy entrance into the scene. Oller creates a kind of coconut Noli me tangere: we may look, but not touch.