How Not To Speak About Drones

A flurry of new reports about the American drone program had people all very excited. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, both released new reports that stated the obvious: killing civilians is bad and must stop. The Amnesty Report, titled Will I Be Next: US Drone Strikes In Pakistan and Human Rights Watch report title Between a Drone and Al-Qaeda: The Civilian Cost of U.S. Targeted Killings in Yemen

But both reports are fantastic exercises in hypocrisy, mendacity and a cowardly ceding of the discourse of the war in Afghanistan and Yemen to the US State Department and the US military. They speak about errant drone strikes while accepting errant military invasions and occupations. Amnesty wants to focus only on ‘civilian’ deaths, thereby ceding the entire ‘precision’ argument to the US military and the US State Department. As if more accuracy will remove the illegality and the real crimes here. Human Rights Watch goes even further and in its very title alone ceded that we are fighting the bogey-man Al-Qaeda in Yemen and that there are ‘good’ civilians we should be more careful about.

The unthinking adoption of the discourse of war that has been laid out by the executive, state and military branches of the USA, the mindless regurgitation of the presumptions of the conflict and the means of its execution, is one of the best hallmarks of the failures, hypocrisies and cowardice of these human rights ‘workers’. By refusing to confront the language and confusions sown by power, by refusing to hold a consistent and human line of argument against all violence and wars, they become front line partners in the propaganda machinery of war. These organizations and their reports offer the carefully selected arenas of moral concern that allow the broader wars, detentions, torture, killings, dispossession and other injustices to continue, while distracting the populace with an acceptably ‘moral’ issue to focus all its attention on.

By separating the drone program from the broader war in Afghanistan, and manufacturing it as something that can be discussed independently of American counter-insurgency campaigns in the area, the human rights organizations have once again shown how they will remain silent in the face of the most egregious and immoral uses of imperial power, but adopt righteous and ‘outraged’ postures on issues that are frankly derivative and inconsequential.

None of the reports takes issue with the illegality and brutality of the American military and political occupation of Afghanistan. The entire assault on a sovereign nation, and the illegality of the occupation (for which we created the euphemism ‘nation building’) is discussed or argued against. The fact that Afghanistan’s civilians are being killed in night raids, aerial bombardments, and conventional military ground operations is no different from the fact that they are being killed in drone attacks. The American drone program is an integrated part of the US counter-insurgency campaign in Afghanistan. It is being supported by ground operations being conducted by the Pakistani Army, and it cannot be discussed as a unique ‘evil’ or ‘civilian killing machine’ as these human rights organizations want to pretend it can.

And there is something particularly glaring and hypocritical about Amnesty International’s impotent arguments against drones when it remains such a strong supporter of the American ‘feminist’ war in Afghanistan. Their ill-conceived ‘Keep The Progress Going’ poster campaign – one that associated the American military presence as a women’s liberation movement – betrays the true colors of an institution that has pretty much lost its mooring.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA It is an organization that today is run largely by Washington D.C insiders – people closely associated with those who make the decisions about war and peace. That is, Amnesty is the sugar-coating that the American political establishment can use to excise away its war crimes. As Coleen Rowley and Ann Wright point out:

The new Executive Director of Amnesty International USA – Suzanne Nossel – is a recent U.S. government insider. So it’s a safe bet that AI’s decision to seize upon a topic that dovetailed with American foreign policy interests, “women’s rights in Afghanistan,” at the NATO Conference last month in Chicago came directly from her.

Nossel was hired by AI in January 2012. In her early career, Nossel worked for Ambassador Richard Holbrooke under the Clinton Administration at the United Nations. Most recently, she served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Organizations at the U.S. Department of State, where she was responsible for multilateral human rights, humanitarian affairs, women’s issues, public diplomacy, press and congressional relations.

She also played a leading role in U.S. engagement at the U.N. Human Rights Council (where her views about the original Goldstone Report on behalf of Palestinian women did not quite rise to the same level of concerns for the women in countries that U.S.-NATO has attacked militarily).

The drone reports offer a clean chit to the American right to bomb across international borders, and also further the assumption that it is Al-Qaeda (with all its anti-American connotations) that is the enemy being fought on the ground. These organizations have a long and celebrated history of white-washing American war crimes and illegal acts of violence. By sinking entire invasions, military occupations, torture programs, rendition practices, indefinite and cruel detention policies and much more, under a ocean-liner load of legalese and textual obfuscations, they have been a core part of the US political and military establishment’s programs to bamboozled the unsuspecting and the mildly morally offended. And no where is this game more obvious than in these two new reports.

I am working on a longer piece about how to understand and thank about the drone program. It is an extension of comments I wrote earlier where I argued that 1) you have to think about the drone program as part of a broader counter-insurgency campaign in Afghanistan, 2) you have to realize that the Americans are facing a popularly supported guerrilla movement and not a handful of ‘Al Qaeda’ operatives, and 3) that the aim of a counter-insurgency campaign is to ‘drain the waters’ i.e. remove popular support for guerrillas who can only operate with the collaboration and assistance of the civilian populations that give them shelter, food, transport and disguise. As I commented to friends earlier (apologies for some of the repetition!) :

Amnesty International and HRW done reports are riddled with hypocrisies, and are in fact doing more to allow drone attacks to continue in the future by asking the US government for a ‘structure of transparency’ thereby giving the Obama and all future administrations an escape hatch. What we may see is the creation of a fraudulent oversight body like FISA – one that basically rubber stamps with a legal voice and language, all the decisions that administration makes about the ‘kill list’.

All drone attacks are illegal. This is an aerial bombardment campaign against a nation and its citizens that are not at war with the USA. They are being carried out by a nation that is an illegal military occupier in Afghanistan, that has no legal basis for its presence there, that has foisted an illegal ‘government’ in the center – a government that has no support or legitimacy across the country (I dare Karzai to take a lone walk on any street in Kabul and see if he survives). If these ‘human rights’ organizations will concede the most egregious violations of international law, if they will remain silent at the most egregious violence and brutalities of the military occupation, if they will indulge in a language that uses the same frameworks that is fed to them by the US State Department (we are fighting Al Qaeda, American is under threat etc.), that drones are precision weapons rather than the weapons of mass terror, terrorizing of the entire population as part of a counter-insurgency campaign to ‘drain the waters’ where guerrilla groups operate from, then these reports are merely dressings and acts of appeasement.

Just reading the reports is a fabulous exercise in obfuscation and word games. Their entire pretext is that there is a ‘threat to America’, not that there is a popular resistance to American and ISAF presence in Afghanistan, a presence that was always illegal, and certainly a 11 year occupation that is no more legitimate than the Soviet Union in Afghanistan back in 1979. These reports just don’t work. They are yet another example of the failure of these human rights organizations that cut off history, that adopt accommodating positions which never confront the hard questions, but gently insert themselves into slivers of acceptability by arguing for a completely fictitious separation of combatants and civilians, a separation that has been of little interest to war powers since around WW II.

A guerrilla movement relies on the popular support of the population. It moves amongst them and finds shelter, food, transport and disguise amongst them. Any counter-insurgency campaign is aimed at terrorizing the civilians into reducing / ending their support for the guerrillas. American counter-terrorism doctrine still turns to Malaya, Philippines and Vietnam for its lessons. And these are the lessons – displace or kill and ‘drain the waters’. It is the war that is illegal, it is the occupation that is the crime – the drones are merely actions of an illegal reality. The Americans do not do body counts because they do not matter – it’s an aerial terror campaign, and along with the Pakistani army on the ground, it is a fundamentally old-style COIN campaign which will, as they have in the past, failed because it doesn’t understand the motivations of the guerrilla movement. Drones are a symptom of the broader pathology of occupation which Amnesty – the same group that celebrated American military occupation in Afghanistan because it will liberate the women (see here: but we will not hear it from the grand minds of HRW or Amnesty. It is far easier to adopt mindless ‘don’t kill the civilians’ postures and pretend you are ‘confronting’ power. The power will soon accommodate your request, tease you into a stalemate, and confuse you with their legalese. At worst, they will give you a pretend transparency, veil the operations under further secrecy, fob you off with a few reports and a rubber-stamp court structure.

Drones are weapons that help de-politicize war, that allow us to stop talking about the deaths of brown-skin wogs in poorer countries, and that allow us to retain weapons of terror and policing where we are politically not able to maintain soldiers and forces. The goals remain the same, the methods are made quieter, more politically palatable and more secret. Transparency is a fraudulent request because we have a lot of transparency, and given the absolutely cowardly behavior of the US federal courts in the face of the sitting administration’s abuse of political power and legal understandings, transparency will just be a formality that changes nothing.Drone attacks are illegal and acts of war. They are covered by the standing Geneva conventions, and all war crimes legislation. We do not need more transparency. We need prosecution.

Clearly there is a lot more to be said. I am working on it.

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The Most Dangerous Nation

The obsession with things ‘Islamic fundamentalist’ and ‘Al Qaeda” has been turned into a veritable multi-billion dollar industry and this despite the very little concrete and independently verified evidence to suppor the many claims of underground ‘Islamic/Al Qaeda’ cells and networks. Details »

New York City Experiments

I arrive in New York in a few days to try out a new experiment. It has been a few years in the making, and it has taken a few months of find funding for it. But now it is ready to be performed. The Polis Project‘s first Un/Do-Photography workshop will start in New  York on November 13th, 2019. And it represents the latest version of a practice of photographic teaching that I have been working on since 2013 when I first tried a new pedagogic practice at CounterFoto in Dhaka, Bangladesh. These workshops are unique because they are less about the practice, craft and mechanics of operating photography technology and primarily about deconstructing social, political and economic assumptions and myths that underlie so much of today’s mainstream photojournalism and photography practice. The Polis Project Un/Do-Photography workshops specifically engage the students on questions of Eurocentrism, imperialism/colonialism, capitalism, commodity fetishism, femo/homo-nationalism, the ‘gaze’ and power, the myths of Western liberalism, technology utopianism, humanitarian racism among other topics. Our goal, unlike any other workshop out there, is to produce critically aware, and intellectually outspoken photographers producing complex, multimedia projects that refuse the easy comforts of mainstream corporate owned media, and pursue complex projects that challenge us to see deeper and clearly. 


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The First Un / Do-Photography Workshop Announced

We at The Polis Project are conducting our first ‘Decolonise Photography’ workshop in New York, from 19th to 23rd November, 2019.

You can learn more about them by going to the link shown above, or here

The workshops are open to all. And they are completely free. 

Over the course of five intensive days of presentations, seminars, discussion groups and project design sessions, participants will be encouraged to think about some of the most critical questions facing our communities. Less a workshop about aesthetics or the technology of the camera, this workshop instead concentrates on developing ways of thinking, researching and designing complex and multi-layer projects that reveal social, political, economic, corporate and other structural factors that create inequality, injustice, repression and violence. In sum, we will work to design and develop visual media projects that do justice to the lived realities, struggles and collective resistance of our most marginalised and silenced communities. 

Join us.

American The Beautiful And The Dreams of Pakistani Liberals

We have become accustomed to certain ways of seeing and speaking about the world. The Pakistani liberal – a caste that has been educated and nurtured on Western educational, political and cultural ideologies absorbed during years abroad at college, or careers, and through popular Western visual and literary media (fiction, non-fiction books), offers a particularly stark lesson in how certain forms of speaking, expressing and justifying arguments remain unchanged by thought, critical inquiry or self-doubt. The thoughtless regurgitation of American / European universalism, exceptionalism, and social sophistication  – all of which mind you are as much myths as anything, is an excellent example of this.

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A Man In The Sun

This is an essay without reason. It emerges as a result of recent discussions with a friend and colleague about decolonialisation–what it means, how does it apply to various areas of human knowledge, and what can it mean for photography. Actually, this essay without reason emerges as a result of discussions at The Polis Project as we design a “Decolonise Photography” workshop series. Our discussions have led us to think about what new and different ways of seeing and doing could emerge in a documentary and photographic practice that recognises that “…the target of epistemic de-colonisation is the hidden complicity between the rhetoric of modernity and the logic of coloniality,” and is based on a need to learn to “unlearn” [See Walter Mignolo, Delinking: The Rhetoric of Modernity, the Logic of Coloniality and the Grammar of De-Coloniality, Cultural Studies, Volume 21, 2007].

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How Not To Critique A Photographer

Image Manipulation: A Manipulated And Confusing Debate

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Photojournalists are once again being asked to offer perspectives and opinions on the apparently growing problem of image manipulation, staging and ‘truth’ in photography. The New York Times Lens Blog ran a piece a few days ago inviting a group of highly experienced photojournalists to speak about the issue. I say ‘apparent’ because there is obviously no objective way of measuring the suspicion that photographers today are more guilty of manipulating their images than photojournalists in the past. It may be a lot easier to carry out post-processing manipulations in Photoshop today, but that hardly confirms the fact that photographers did not do this in the past.

Anyone who has closely studied the works of one of the greatest photojournalists ever, Eugene Smith, would know well that image manipulation and staging were critical parts of his method. A number of his most famous and iconic images were either staged, had elements removed and added to them, or heavily processed in the darkroom to a degree that the final image had no resemblance to the negative. It has been argued that Eugene Smith got away with all this because he was Eugene Smith. As Cosgrove argues:

The sort of tinkering Smith engaged in with that one, iconic Schweitzer photograph might be frowned upon today. Any contemporary photojournalist who admitted to such behaviour would probably be excoriated by his or her peers, as well as by the general public.

W. Eugene Smith, on the other hand, has largely escaped such censure for one reason, and one reason only: he was W. Eugene Smith, and for better or worse, when it comes to aesthetics — and even, to some extent, when it comes to ethics — genius has always played by, and been judged by, a different set of rules than those that govern the rest of us.

One of the icons of the craft, and most likely, many more, engaged in what we would call ‘authorship’ – the right of the photographer to tell a story. In fact, of all the photographers invited to offer their opinion in this New York Times Lens Blog discussion, on Donald Weber gets right down to it, and demands that the photographer’s authorship be considered as something real, meaningful and important. He argues that:

Today, there are no limits, so our struggle is to liberate our reliance on technical capabilities and place our faith in the voice of the story and the author.

There can be no one way of doing anything, and a code of ethics should not hinder the aims of photography. In fact, it must work to liberate the story from stultifying confines, and help the photojournalist to engage an audience. How do we begin the transformation?

Weber can see that what is being argued and demanded can only lead to the erasure of the photographer as a voice, a point-of-voice and a creative. What is being asked is that photojournalists reduce themselves to simply button pushers on location, attempting to capture to the nearest degree possible, all the colour values, situational reality, and immediately unfolding event, as it happened at the moment of pressing the shutter. That their only role is recording the obvious, and that they are closest to the ‘truth’ when they are entirely absent intellectually, creatively, and visibly i.e. not influencing the situation around them. Such a posture of course is the mythical and imagined ideal of photojournalism. I call it mythical because most of the people who argue for it ignore the fundamental fact that even what is being recorded / documented / photographed, is based on human choice, prioritisation and opinion. That is, you cannot erase the human from behind the machine. Who asked the photographer to be at the location? Why did the photographer press the shutter when she did? What compelled her to aim it towards a certain group vs. another group? Why was even that particular unfolding situation important? In the end, authorship imposes itself on any form of documentary and editorial work.

But I am getting ahead of myself.

What I want to point out here in this post is the fact that these discussions, opinions, statements and arguments, lack a structure and a discipline. Photographers are speaking about a number of different things, and referring to a number of different situations and problems and calling all of them ‘manipulation. Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, the entire discussion ignores or avoids perhaps one of the most important influences that leads to manipulations and staging – the role of the editor in setting expectations and the struggle to delivery work to those expectations.

We can get a grasp of the different arenas of manipulation if we look at the entire production chain of photojournalism. We have to do this because photographers, and photojournalism work, is part of a chain of activities, and does not stand alone, and apart. To understand the way it is produced, and the issues of manipulation or staging that may be adopted at times, we have to place it in its industry and see the photographers and their responses from this wider perspective.There are four key and distinct forms of image manipulation that we have to deal with, and often argue about. It is critical to be clear which of these forms are the focus of our concern, and to make sure that we are not conflating one form with the other.

Why is this important? Well, first, because these are interrelated and influence each other. For example, a certain form of post-processing manipulation e.g. darkness a bombardment cloud, or cropping an edge of an image to make it more relevant to the editor, can be driven by a photographers need to make the image fit the editorial mandate.

At a very high level, a rather simple framework would allow us to define it as follows:

  1. The Issue Itself: Here I include editorial selection of stories to cover, stories to not cover, perspectives to show, and those to ignore, what to highlight and what to downplay. photojournalists do not work independent of editorial direction and discussion. many work alongside writers and closely with editors who advise them on what they are looking for. with growing influence of corporate and advertising money, and collaborations with the government, this area is a critical arena of manipulation and determines what photojournalists cover and what they ignore.
  2. Execution: Here I am referring to photographers staging and arranging photos, influencing the situation to get a photo they need, hiring people to perform a situation and then claim it for real, goading or encouraging people at the scene to create a situation that will get them the picture, or placing or setting up situations or objects to get the necessary images.
  3. Post-Processing: This is the most obvious – the use of post-processing image tools to conduct image editing, colour correction, erasing / adding of elements and so on.
  4. Publishing / Editing: This is the process where once the work in the field is done, editors and writers and photographers begin the process of editing, selecting, arranging, captioning, layouts and placements inside articles such that their meaning and idea is defined and determined.

Our discussions to date, as reflected again in this recent New York Times dialogue, focus on Execution and Post-Processing arenas. Editorial and Publishing manipulations are rarely if ever discussed. Stanley Greene talks mostly about 2 & 3. So does Santiago Lyon, McNally talks largely about 2, so does Sim Chi Yin and Darcy Padilla. In fact, categories 2 and 3 are the ones most everyone will talk about and discuss, to the exclusion of 1 and 4. Everyone argues that what is missing is some sort of bizarre ‘ethical’ standard, an honor code among professionals that would apparently go a long way towards reducing these ‘breaches. This is very much like the argument against doping in sports – it focuses on the athletes, demands greater ‘ethical’ standards, but ignores the fundamental market and profit pressures that are placed on the individuals and teams, and which often compel people to do whatever it takes to win. And which often provide the chemists, doctors, physiotherapists and other technicians to help enable the doping. Because winning is all that really matters in the end and in photography, getting the image is all that matters and to do this requires the involvement and collaboration of many people. Not the least, that of the editor.

It is only if we broaden the discussion that we can begin to understand not just why photojournalists may make unethical choices, but also what the impact and relevance of these choices are. It is critical to discuss the entire cycle because editorial demands, expectations, discussions, and decisions, play a powerful role in what a photographer does on the ground, and how s/he goes about getting the images that are necessary. I am not suggesting that editors compel photographers to manipulate – though that has been known to happen, but what I am arguing is that photographers face pressure and can be influenced by these pressures to manipulate things.

And there are times when that pressure comes from the growing demands of 24/7 media, the high stakes game of advertisement dollars and the need to be ‘first to the scene’, and the cut-throat nature of the craft where just ‘getting the picture’ is the only demand – ethical or otherwise, being placed on the photojournalist. These pressures come before the photographer even steps into the field, and we have to consider their role in how photographers end up working. We are in a world where more of us are being asked to do more, for less – less time, less money, less publishing space, and less voice. With more and more competition – from professionals and amateurs, and fewer and fewer assignments that allow a photographer the time and patience to produce necessary work, we should not be surprised that people will cut corner, make adjustments, set things up, just simply to get the job done. This is not a justification for manipulation, but simply to point out that we should not be so ‘shocked’ and certainly not be naive about the fact that the industry has increasingly veered towards

In fact, it is with some amusement that I read Michele McNally’s rather thoughtlessly offered comment – given that the New York Times has always used embedded photojournalism which is definitely perhaps one of the most egregious examples of Execution Manipulation, and passed it off as ‘truth’, that:

There are many societies where photographers work without accepted ethical guidelines, but with a long history of producing propaganda disguised as “news.”

Indeed, it would appear that the USA is right there among these ‘societies’ though I suspect she is not referring to her own country, or even to her own publication which has repeatedly crossed ‘ethical’ guidelines in its coverage of America’s wars, or Israel’s occupation and even its cheerleading of the build up to the invasion of Iraq. But we will not get into all that in this post as I have frequently written on that issue in previous posts. By not being aware of the complete cycle of photojournalism, McNally not only ignores her publication’s own ethical breaches, but she entirely leaves out the role of editors in creating these breaches in the first place.

What is striking about the framework outlined above is this: that it is easy for people to understand the necessity of choices and points-of-view when it comes to Issue Selection and Publishing / Editing, but not when it comes to Execution and Post-Processing. But given that a

My Struggles With Masculinity

It’s fascinating to see the return of so many mid- 18th century Orientalist troupes and obsessions : this bizarre and needling determination to categorize and then – as if the categories created are genuine and natural, to analyze. The French are of course persistent and unrepentant Orientalists, and the more educated the worse. And so this gaze that first categorizes – ‘Arab masculinity’, and then pretends to analyze it.

What is ‘Arab masculinity’? Need we ask? Dare we ask where this object of study even comes from? Is it even real? Is there a unique Arab conception and manifestation of ‘masculinity’? Do a dozen stylized, fashion-shoot type set-up images of men who happen to be Arab provide enough material to explain not only the category, but its real existence? Do these men live in cages, isolated from the world and its influences? Do they experience whatever we may think are pure ‘Arab’ experiences, and not any spilling across geographical, intellectual, cultural, emotional and physical boundaries? An ‘Arab’ is an ‘Arab’ is an ‘Arab’, and damn is s/he is anything but a pure representation of an easily isolated and studied species.

And what of the claim of reversals ie the female looking at the male as a change from the male gaze on the female? Is this even a thing? Is this not a discursive distraction from the fundamental question of power which yet again is not addressed directly? The Orientalist gaze was a possessive gaze, and a dispossessing one. It possessed the power to represent, and define, and dispossessed the subject of voice and history.

And so, when Marianne Roux of On Orient describes this work as:

“Mectoub is fascinating because of this unveiling, made possible because the photographer is both female and a foreigner. It plunges us deep into our representations and overturns them. Scarlett Coten holds up these copies for us to see, Homo Orientalis specimens of the new generation, in an unfiltered way, just as they are.”

…one is left feeling a little quesy at the crassly familiar phrasing and erasing. The use of words such as ‘unveiling’ or ‘Homo Orientalis’ are in amateurish poor taste, but the suggestion ‘in an unfiltered way…’ a profoundly troubling reminder of classical Orientalisms conviction of simply offering facts unaffected by power, politics, prejudice or personal ambition.

Arab masculinity. African masculinity. (I wrote about this in an earlier post:…/rethinking-africa-or-how-not-…/

Gender. We construct categories but then forget that we constructed them. Foucault can scream till hell freezes over, but in a decade where Orientalism’s reductive and debilitating simplicities are back in style, I must say that I am not surprised that this body of work is taken unquestioningly seriously, but am also disappointed that it is.

We need to question Coten’s constructions, despite the claims to overturn representations, and see the ways in which they belong to a long tradition of colonial photography that wants to capture individuals, sans individual histories and social, cultural, intellectual and psychological interconnections, and offer them up as general representations of a unique, manufactured category. Today more than ever – with travel, education, the internet, magazines, television and big-screen media, social media and more, it is untenable to argue or justify the existence of isolated and insulated social ‘categories’.

In a world that is as integrated, inter-connected, and intermingled as it ever was, where influences from around the globe and the digital globe, from travel, from readings, from relationships, from education and knowledge, from experiences that transcend a local culture or geography and then influence the construction of the self, ideas of identity, style, voice, intellectual development and even emotional expressions, its near impossible to speak of ‘Arab masculinity’. But of course, when it comes to ‘Arab’ – as the Orientalists once did and now as we are once again reaching for these debilitating categories and reductive generalizations, these ideas are being given new currency by European institutions if not European / Western photographers. If it’s not the ‘hijab’, or ‘women’s liberation’ or other some such tiresome and idiotic arena of focus, it’s simply a continuation of the use of gender and sexuality to cage and label. It is an act of cultural and intellectual violence to castrate these subjects from their many relationships and broad influences, and pen them into a construction that suggests that they represent something entirely ‘Arab’ – whatever that is, and something entirely ‘masculine’, whatever that is too.

Note: Hester Keijser reminded me that I need to differentiate the way this project was depicted by the Oskar Barnack Award committee and the goals and intentions of the photographer. She is correct to point out that institutions can run away with the work and give it an entirely new voice. She also pointed out that Coten herself has a difficult and complex relationship with this work, one that she continues to work through. I respect the photographer’s perspective and would love to have a discussion. My comments above are based on the public statements about this work, both from the Oskar Barnack announcement and from Coten’s own website. I look forward to, and hope, that Coten will some day pen a concise and clear argument, where she isn’t  afraid to express her process but also her doubts and self-questioning, as we all do about the works we pursue. The convention of ‘bombast’ and ‘confidence’ required of photographers, where they speak of their works without ever revealing their own struggles and self-questioning, has to end.