A Photographer Confronts His World
There is a lot going on and its been difficult to keep up with the readings, and even my reactions to them. There are days when I am convinced I will forever disconnect from this burden created by the ability to read literally hundreds of articles, essays, blog posts, and other material with the flip of a switch. And yet, that same reality is the reason why I cannot simply turn it off. There is just so much amazing material, information, ideas, insights, and seductively stupid stuff that one can now access with the least effort, that it seems a crime against oneself to pull away. That being said, I have managed to seriously control my online social life, and develop to a newer and more satisfying degree, my real social life. New friends, new colleagues, and new collaborators in projects have been a welcome addition, and a more natural way to step away from the siren song of Safari (ok, I just wrote that to make it rhyme because I actually prefer to use Firefox!). But, as always, there was a lot to talk about, and comment on. Details »
Why is a documentary on a foreign war correspondent, who had the choice to pack up and leave but decided to stay, and died as a consequences, considered more important, compelling or appealing than a documentary about a resident who had no choice but stay and die? Is it some how more tragic, the loss of life more poignant, for that fact that the deaths of Hondros and Hetherington, and so many others, appear so completely unnecessary? Even in our cynical age is there still some latent appeal in that old romantic idea of dying for a cause and what are the implications of this in an atmosphere that seems to be becoming increasingly dangerous for journalists? Profoundly disturbing ones I think.
He steps into a debate that has not-quite-raged within the community of photojournalists because apparently they are all too busy discussing Instagram or the latest Hipstamatic film-type or some other such ‘innovation’. Lewis Bush is speaking about recent announcements about documentary films about Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros, two photojournalists who were killed during the recent Libya war. But the fact remains that our consumer / media saturated societies needs people like itself to help it make sense of the world. It needs the ‘white’ interlocutor to not only protect us from the diversity of perspectives and seemingly incomprehensible views of ‘the other’, but to also assure us that all is well in the world because someone like ‘us’ is out there reporting on it, and telling us how to think and respond to it. Details »
I wanted to give this post a gentler title. I wanted to do that because I have been an admirer of Koudelka’s work for years, considering his book Gypsies to be one of the most important influences in pushing me to become a photographer. For me he has always been the photographer famous for his independence of thought, his personal moral and political integrity and his public reputation as a man whose works embody a moral and social conscience. So it was shocking to read his recent interview in the New York Times Lens blog about his work on the Israeli wall that scars the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza (Koudelka only documented as far as I know the wall as it exists in the West Bank). To find that this otherwise intelligent individual, with enough intellectual and emotional independence to come to an honest conclusion about what is taking place in the West Bank, choses to hide behind an apolitical and frankly cowardly language of ‘environment’ and ‘its too complex’ was staggering to confront. It was down right shameful to read. Details »
An impressive set of articles in the latest issue of the American Association of University Professor’s (AAUP) Journal. All the essays are in PDF format and can be read and downloaded from their site. Joan Scott offers a powerful reason for why this question has to be examined by the American academy, and why supporting the calls for a boycott and university divestment are crucial.
The American academy has been particularly complicit in perpetuating the fiction of Israeli democracy—its leaders seek to protect Israel from its critics, even as they also seek to protect themselves from the wrath of the organized lobbies who speak on behalf of the current Israeli regime and its policy of establishing academic outposts in illegal settlements. This, it seems to me, is ill advised, since so much of Israeli politics right now is at odds with the best values of the American educational system. Paradoxically, it is because we believe so strongly in principles of academic freedom that a strategic boycott of the state that so abuses it makes sense right now. Details »
Western media insists on appearing innocently confused in this report about the return of big dam projects in Africa. In fact, there is a determined intellectual block in mainstream journalism that prevents them from speaking out against modernist development theories, and their terrible divisive, debilitating and unjust consequences for the majority of a nation’s populace. We have seen this repeatedly in many a good-intentioned work on economic inequality, global poverty and human deprivation. Details »
Burqa Swag? In a rather strange, and uninformed piece in The Guardian, Arwa Mahdawi claims that:
There’s a certain glamour associated with the pariah status that, much as we might like to think otherwise, Muslims bear in western societies. Cavorting with the Muslim world generates a kind of transgression by proxy for the savvy pop star. Details »
Please give your support to this amazing group of designers on the Visualizing Palestine project. They are only half way to their fund-raising campaign and every dollar makes a difference. It is an intelligent and informed analysos of the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and of Israeli’s continued racist policies both inside the country and the occupied territories.
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. Details »
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