A Photographer Confronts His World
This was weird. The reviewer is in awe of her – power, celebrity, scion, hereditary fame, activism, beauty, western composure, oriental aesthetic, class privilege and dynastic worth.
“It’s no wonder she has consistently denied any interest in going into politics. Still, at age 32, Bhutto is more of a celebrity than most first-time fiction writers. Born in Kabul, raised in Damascus, educated in New York and London, she now lives in Karachi. She has over 850,000 followers on Twitter, where her page begins with a quote from Vladimir Nabokov that reads, “My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.”
The perfect product of the Western imagination of how the Wogs will grow up to be civilised like us. And yet, the book review, when the writer does get past fawning over her and starts to read her work, suggests a trite, cliched, pretentious work. It may not be, but that is the impression left from reading the critical review part of this hagiography. Details »
A friend sent the above to me this earlier today. Oddly, the list reminded me of Hassan Nasir.
I know most don’t know him. He was once a beautiful Pakistani man, but died after beatings and torture by the Pakistani state during the decades of anti-Communist and anti-progressive pogroms that not only destroyed any hope of an egalitarian and democratic Pakistan, but also opened the door to religio-political shennanigans meant to distract the people from their hunger, their cold, and their slow deaths. Faiz Ahmed Faiz wrote of him. Our 22 boy-toys can’t quite live up to that achievement.
There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”
David Foster Wallace, Whats’ Water?
We love the myth of the individual crusader. And we love it even more when the crusaders convinces us, or his/her arguments are presented as if, there is no one else but the individual. National Geographic stories are very explicitly neoliberal in this regard: there is no government, there are no policies, there is no corporation, no labor, no collectivity and hence, there is no accountability for political and corporate power and interests. The selling of the myth that only individuals exist, and the re-painting of the social and economic collapse of a city as something that has nothing to do with policy choices (of government, of corporations and the two in collusion) is ideological. All this is washed away by feel good stories of resilience because demanding accountability from your elected officials, and struggling for social and economic support goes against our current neoliberal fantasy world of individuals as personal value agents alone. Details »
Someone please send these people some skateboards (see my previous post When All Else Fails, Give Them Our Games… because their women are quite clearly in desperate need of liberation from their ‘men’! These are orthodox Jewish women in Israel, in case you cannot tell. And you would not be wrong for not being able to! Details »
They tried invasions, occupations, complete imperial rule. They tried bunker-busting bombs, Uranium tipped missiles. They have tried drones, and night raids, and torture and indefinite detention. They have tried the full weight of a rhetoric of love of man and human rights. And now they will try the….skate board. Details »
Some influences creep up on you. They take time. You have been seeing their work for years, set it aside, perhaps not looked at it closely. But something from even the first cursory glances remains with you. Seeps into you. Keeps you thinking about it, perhaps over years. Tunbjörk was one of those photographers whose work at first seemed trivial, or perhaps even predictable. It was only later that I began to see that it was critically sharp, and visually brilliant. This was the year that I was starting to study him seriously. This was the year that I was going to meet him – his studios are very close to my apartment in Stockholm. I was just going to walk in and hope to find him there. R.I.P.
It is rare to have a photographer speak back to you. I can’t say how thrilled I was to receive a carefully written email from the
Argentinian Portuguese (thank you Ziyah Gafic!) photographer Joao Pina some months ago in response to my criticism of a The New York Times Lens Blog piece about his project CONDOR. The original piece, titled Exposing The Legacy Of Operation Condor, which appeared on June 24, 2014, in fact very obviously elided the deep American collaboration and support (financial, intelligence, political and possibly even in weaponry), for the operations that shattered the political and civic resistance landscape in a number of Latin American countries.
An important photo project, but if you are going to speak about Operation Condor, you cannot, and must not, remain silent about the American collaboration and acquiescence in the campaign. It is important to remember that six nations were involved in this campaign, and they were American allies, not the least of which was Pinochet’s Chile. The US was well aware of the mass disappearances and killings that were taking place, and it did not merely stand aside, but also provided technical and other assistance to our allies while it was all taking place.
adding further that:
Photojournalists have to confront history and speak honestly. It is not enough to simply make strong photographs. It is not enough to compartmentalise history into conveniently acceptable and polite packages. I don’t know if Pina will say more in his own words and in his own pages, but I hope that he will see that the New York Times is not the place to offer the complete story of Operation Condor.
And in fact, Joao Pina has said a lot more, and very explicitly too. I learned this through an email I received from Joao Pina some weeks after I wrote my criticism, where he very carefully and with great civility, set me straight on the matter. Details »
I suppose people will say I am harping on this. And I hope they do.
Time Magazine – a publication that Glenn Greenwald recently referred to as a ‘…click-hungry gossip website’ gleefully highlighted how the comedian John Oliver told Edward Snowden that nobody knows who he is or even cares.
This segment – discussing one of the most egregious violations of American constitutional protections and the continued blasé manner in which these protections have been summarily dismissed since 9/11, to say nothing about the flood of lies by our political leaders, including Obama, our military and our intelligence administrators about these programs, is a classic example of how comedy and jokes denude the issue of meaning, gravity and concern. Details »
At the risk of sounding like a curmudgeon.
People are discussing this drivel as if we were not talking about two career comedians meek and polite enough for mainstream media to give them prime time multi-million dollar shows, but political radicals behind whom millions galvanised to over throw society and build a new political order!
Please forgive me not confusing a good joke for political and social dissent. I apologise for not seeing The Daily Show to be an important manifesto. Details »
Bad Behavior has blocked 324 access attempts in the last 7 days.