Marilyn Minter was a photography student at the University of Florida, in Gainesville, in 1969. She had just shown her fellow students the proof sheets from a series of black-and-white photographs of her mother, a glamorous drug addict and recluse, taken when visiting her one weekend at the Coral Ridge Towers, an apartment complex near Fort Lauderdale. The photographs look like stills from a late Joan Crawford or Bette Davis movie. A glamorous woman in a wig wearing a negligee stares at a gilded mirror. She is in bed, surrounded by bottles of pills, rather languidly smoking. Her daughter took twelve shots, one roll of 2 ¼ inch film. Her fellow students were horrified that this was her ­mother. Diane Arbus was a visiting artist at the time, and praised the proof sheets when she saw them. Minter remembers Arbus wearing a silver minidress, silver sandals, short hair, and no bra. No one dressed like that in Florida. She didn’t know then that Arbus was a famous artist, or what about these photographs would have drawn her in. Looking at them now, it makes sense. There’s something both cruel and tender about the gaze. A way of encountering her mother in her claustrophobic element. Despite the lone encouragement of an alien ­visitor, Marilyn Minter didn’t print the photographs for years, so ­depressed by her peers’ critiques. What was Sontag’s issue with Arbus in her book on photography, her critique that her photographs lacked empathy? After all, who can be crueler than critics? I saw these Coral Ridge Towers photographs at the Marilyn Minter retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum a couple years ago. They were the first photographs you saw, on the wall, when you walked in. I recognized something in how haunted and isolated her mother looked in those pictures, and yet defiant among her cosmetics and pills. I could have stared forever. I was heavily pregnant, almost two weeks overdue. My midwife had told me to go do something fun, to take my mind off things. While I was there I ran into a famous editor, who had worked with Kathy Acker and David Wojnarowicz and Karen Finley, and who had edited an essay I wrote in an anthology. She was with a friend of hers who had written the definitive book on act up. We embraced, but she eyed me nervously. She seemed worried I was going to go into labor right then, that my water would break all over the museum floor. We’ll all be stuck here all night, she said. That’s not how it works, I wanted to say to her, but didn’t. It’s not like in the movies.