Thursday, May 28, 2009

One Hundredth of a Second (2)/By way of an answer

[Holger and Kerstin said:]

“what's the photographer’s opinion on it?”

This is obviously a multidimensional issue and I can only give you my thoughts on it.

There is foremost the moral dimension. The question is whether the photojournalist could have done anything in this situation to save the life of the young girl - either by stepping in or drawing attention to herself. Most likely the answer is that she could not have done anything to save the life of the girl. If she had made herself known to the perpetrator most likely she would have been killed as well.

The second moral issue or question is whether the photojournalist had the right to take the image of the murdered girl ex post and get it published. I would suggest that she had the right and in her situation almost a moral obligation to take the picture and create a document, evidence of a heinous murder, of an evil act. Only by doing this she can draw the attention of a broader audience to the fact that a war is going on, that civilians suffer and injustice is committed. And maybe as important: with a photographic document of these acts of barbarism no one in his or her right mind can question sixty years later that there have been atrocities in Auschwitz, Srebrenica, or Ruanda to name but a very few.

I also think that there is a practical dimension: I guess the photojournalist simply operated on some kind of autopilot. She did what she set out to do: photograph the war. So I presume that it was almost a reflex to take such an image without much thought about the moral dimension.

Image copyright: Anthony Suau for Time.

There is maybe another dimension in that a photograph like that of the murdered girl would most likely not win any reputable competition (e.g. World Press Photo) anymore. The assessment of what juries of such competitions consider an appropriate and “useful” document has evolved over the past few years. Look for example at last year’s winner, Anthony Suau, at his photo of a police officer checking a foreclosed home. It is far more subtle and multilayered than if Suau had simply shown the eviction of residents of a foreclosed home. It is more about stepping back and showing more than one aspect in an image that is a winning combination – even if that means that the photograph is more difficult to read.

Your thoughts?

One Hundredth of a Second

Friday, May 22, 2009

From Document to Memory

“…photographs I take while on a trip are the commemoration of the fact that I existed in that place or that I happened to see something there – they are not the commemoration of my visit…”

[from Daido Moriyama: From document to memory.]

Die Grünen/Altes Literaturhaus, Frankfurt

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Cockroach Blues

The Cockroach Blues

Capo I

I saw you lying in the bathroom
You lay on your brown back
Your little feet were spinning
Your body made of shellac
I found you quite appealing

But you were just a cockroach
So I flushed you down the toilet…

Decision to Shoot

“…There is no way that a single person can have a truly comprehensive view of the world, but it is possible for him to conceive of an outline of its totality. It is therefore from the gap between his perceptions of cruel reality and his weltanschauung – in other words, from the interplay between the extremes of the real and the ideal, as they are juxtaposed in his shutter – that meaning arises.

It is without question precisely in this juxtaposition that one can find the potential relevance of photography to history, culture, and politics most closely approaching the realm of probability. One may never be able to discover anything as enigmatic as “the truth” in a photograph, but if one were to settle for something close to it, it may be that is consists of neither an absolute affirmation nor an absolute denial of anything, but something between the two…”

[from Daido Moriyama: The decision to shoot.]

Sunday, May 10, 2009

[Nicht mehr Teil Deiner Welt]

[Nicht mehr Teil Deiner Welt]

Ich sah Dich am Fenster,
Dein Blick verloren ins Draußen.
Deine Gedanken, ich weiß nicht wo –

Du sagtest kein Wort in dieser Nacht,
Ich lag neben Dir ohne Schlaf.
Versuchte zu spüren, was an Nähe blieb,
Konnte doch nur Deine Hülle ahnen.

Später warst Du fort –
Und Gewissheit sank in mich ein,
Dass ich gewesen Teil Deiner Welt.

[R.B. Mai 2009]

Monday, May 4, 2009

Lion vs. Sheep

"It is better to live one year as a lion than ten years as a sheep..."

French Proverb

Sunday, May 3, 2009

[Hälfte des Lebens...Friedrich Hölderlin]

Hälfte des Lebens

Mit gelben Birnen hänget 

Und voll mit wilden Rosen 

Das Land in den See, 

Ihr holden Schwäne, 

Und trunken von Küssen 

Tunkt ihr das Haupt 

Ins heilignüchterne Wasser.

Weh mir, wo nehm ich, wenn 

Es Winter ist, die Blumen, und wo 

Den Sonnenschein, 

Und Schatten der Erde? 

Die Mauern stehn 

Sprachlos und kalt, im Winde 

Klirren die Fahnen.

[Friedrich Hölderlin]

[Wisdom from Oscar Wilde...]

"A man's face is his autobiography. A woman's face is her work of fiction." - Oscar Wilde