I recently came across the works (thanks to (Notes On) Politics, Theory & Photography) of a photographer by the name of Gregory Halpern. I had never heard of him before, but that is a failure on my part.
I was recently talking to some young photographer’s at a South Asia symposium at Tuft’s University and one of them asked me what kinds of photographers I admire. My response was simple; those who allow their individual intelligence and opinions to come across in their works and photographs.
Such is the works of Gregory Halpern, particularly this gentle, human and beautifully produced piece of work on Harvard University’s staff called Living Wage Campaign
The tremendous development of photojournalism has contributed practically nothing to the revelation of the truth about conditions in this world. On the contrary photography, in the hands of the bourgeoisie, has become a terrible weapon against the truth. The vast amount of pictured material that is being disgorged daily by the press and that seems to have the character of truth serves in reality only to obscure the facts. The camera is just as capable of lying as the typewriter” – Bertolt Brecht,1931, in Kahn, Heartfield: Art & Mass Media
You can see George Gittoes disturbing film called Soundtrack To War here (both the quote above and the movie is thanks to James Pomerantz interesting blog site A Photo Student):
Much has been written about the dangers of love. Even more of the kind that is young and frivolous. It can undermine society, sink morality, break up the family, question authority, and perhaps most dangerously, offer uncontrolled joy that distracts from hard discipline.
Few know this better our guardians of all that is good and valuable in our society, our spiritual masters and their foot soldiers, who are ever ready to protect us from this evil which many of us are beginning to suspect is in fact an insidious foreign import meant to weaken and destroy us before the final and complete take over of our society, women and dignity. Details »
Its difficult to know how to react to this rather strange piece of writing that appeared in a recent issue of Time magazine. Written by the photojournalist James Nacthwey, and titled Haiti: Out of the Ruins, it appears to dance uncomfortably and rather desperately, between a poem and prose. I could not quite tell what it was, and I struggled to work through it. However, not being much of a writer myself, I acknowledge my inability to appreciate its complete poetic possibilities.
But what I could appreciate is what was left unsaid. I found the piece confusing because of a very simple, obvious and glaring omission; the role and influence of the United States of America in the creation of the very history this piece claims the Haitians continue to endure. Or more precisely:
They continue to endure their history — a crescendo of privation and hardship, matched by strength, pride and dignity. Their nation was born in the conquest of slavery; it has been shaped by poverty, struggle and faith.
Not quite. Details »
Lets begin by celebrating overt and rabid racism – Ayaan Hirsi Ali was at the Jaipur Literary Festival and I was left bereft with incredulity at the idiocy of the event organizers. Rather than create a genuinely interesting and intellectually serious environment around writers, thinkers, activists and intellectuals, the festival seems to prefer polemicist, celebrities, second class ‘European’ award winners, starlets, and of course, a lovely collection of Islamophobes and reductive racists. Details »
There are words to describe an inability to find words. Speechless, dumbstruck, dumbfounded, silent, bereft of speech, tongue-tied, inarticulate, mute, dumb, voiceless, and probably others.
But what words describe when you can’t find images?
And what words describe when you keep missing them?
There are no words really to describe this state of being, and the feelings that sit heavy in your heart when you are experiencing it. In all the decades that photographer’s have been dealing with this phenomenon, it has never occurred to them to give it a name. Perhaps we are just afraid to name it in the hope that no one will know about it, and we will not have to accept that we have to work through it. Details »
There is something terribly indecent about it and we have to be honest and acknowledge it.
The hoards of photographers and wanna-be photographers, most eyeing each other and copying each other so that they may not get ‘left behind’, that have descended on Haiti since the devastating earthquake there remind me why I have felt so alienated and disconnected from this entire craft. The specious justifications of ‘bearing witness’ or that ‘…news pictures help drive a response of aid’, just no longer ring true.
Rarely have so many people used so many clichés so repetitively to justify an act (the news photograph) so lacking in engagement for so long. Decades since photographers started using the language of ‘concerned photographer’, a new generation continues to parrot the same language, and continues to hide its real motivations – determined more by careerism, a pursuit of awards, or just plain bravado, behind a veil of moral, and messianic language of ‘bearing witness’, and ‘in the hope that it will change things’. I am hearing it all over again in Haiti and its driving me nuts! Details »
I have so much to say about him, but can’t find the right words. But I could not leave this blog without mentioning a man whose ideas and values has had a tremendous influence on my own. I mentioned to a friend that a great generation of American dissidents is passing and I fear that there isn’t a new generation to replace them. Chomsky, Vidal, Cockburn, Barsamian come to mind and each have been at their task for decades. I hope that I am wrong. But, while I wait to discover and read a new generation, here is Viggo Mortensen reading Zinn, thanks to PULSE. Details »