While posting after each writing would have been more logical, I ended up writing all my blogposts on one massive word document because I would often write them on the go after watching documentaries or TEDTalksX for my self, and connecting them to the course. Below are the links to all the “sparks”, and the word document of where I responded to them.
“Not What Happened but Why” – New York Times article – Responding to Susan Sontag’s “Regarding the Pain of Others”
Sebastian Salgado – The Guardian article – Making beautiful pictures from tragedy
Bocas de ceniza – Juan Manuel Echavarría – My response to this video shown in class
11 powerful photos from the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide – The Washington Post article – Reading the article and critically analyzing the “beauty” of the photos
To Succeed in Business, Major in Art History – Huffington Post Article about why being an Art Historian is important in the way you view the world
“Let my photographs bear witness” James Nachtwey – TEDTalkX on War Photography
Audacious – Denver Art Museum Exhibit – “British artist Damien Hirst famously said, “Art survives through its effect on others.” As a leader in the contemporary art world, he, like his peers, considers making art a way to convey ideas about culture, human relationships, the environment, and politics.” – (DAM website)
Doris Salcedo – The video we watched on her public works/activism and how I reacted to it.
Mi Tierra – Denver Art Museum Exhibit – I intern(ed) at the DAM for all of this past semester, and I had the privilege of seeing the installation of this exhibit, which explores the idea of home. In the FUSE BOX space, there is a piece on Native Americans and the land they lost through war and the repercussions they are still effected by.
Sebastian Junger Remembers Tim Hetherington – Vanity Fair article – Reaction and remembering Tim Hetherington
I found this article both inspiring and also hard to read, as we see how strong sexism is and how it plays a role in the way stories are told. This is a general statement, and when pulled back, it is even more interesting when applying it to high-conflict and humanitarian interests like war photography and journalism.
I found the article to be thought provoking, as Abrams explored the reality of what being women is like, owning and using stereotypical labels to tell a story in a way they though to be important and powerful. She discussed attributes about how generally speaking, women are less threatening, which lead them to get permission to enter houses and areas that men could not, which often included spaces where people were getting medical treatment and care, and getting more intimate stories because of this.
“Matthews points out other differences: “Women sometimes think of better ways to capture a story. We look behind the action and have different priorities, such as the human interest. Twenty years ago, there were rarely any images of the women who were left behind in conflict zones. Now, because of women photographers, you see images of refugee camps all the time – taken by men as well as women.” Edelstein adds that “women are prepared to look at the emotional undergrowth of the situations we’re in.”” (The Guardian)
Between watching the powerful scene from the documentary of the barber discussing his experience in during the war and in the death camps, and finding himself at a loss for words as he is overcome with the pain of remembering some of the horrors he saw while a young barber at the death camps, to reading the article of the context and background of why Claude Lanzmann decided to make the documentary, it is a powerful tribute to the importance of documentaries, especially for horrific events like the Holocaust.
As we discussed in class, the power of memory is something we cannot begin to explain, but while documentaries and remembering, especially when so much of history, like the the tragedies of the holocaust we destroyed, avoided, and even to this day, hidden, it is important to recognize how powerful the mind is. Perspective and stories are all up for relevance. The experiences of two people during the same event could be completely different, and while that is not a strike against either, critical thinking is so important.
The part of the article from The New Yorker that stood out to me the most was the part where they discuss the starting point and approach to the creation of this 9 and half hour documentary.
““Shoah” was not Lanzmann’s idea. It was commissioned, in 1973, by Alouph Hareven, a friend of Lanzmann’s in the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who, having seen “Israel, Why,” suggested that Lanzmann make a film about the Holocaust from “the viewpoint of the Jews,” a film that is not “about the Shoah, but a film that is the Shoah.” Lanzmann spent a year doing research on a subject that he thought he knew about “innately.” He discovered, from reading books, watching films, and talking with survivors, that
what was most important was missing: the gas chambers, death in the gas chambers, from which no one had returned to report. The day I realized that this was what was missing, I knew that the subject of the film would be death itself, death rather than survival, a radical contradiction since in a sense it attested to the impossibility of the project I was embarking on: the dead could not speak for the dead. . . . My film would have to take up the ultimate challenge; take the place of the non-existent images of death in the gas chambers.” (The New Yorker)
For me, the opening paragraph of this article was powerful right from the statement that states that being “Caught between categories, the grotesque momentarily robs of us of language, of any kind of agency that we would assert against the unspoken paradoxes and hypocrisies of culture”, specifically referencing horror and humor.
I find this incredibly relevant as a coping mechanism as well as a way to make people pay attention to real world issues. The amount of issues that then communicated in a joking matter is incredible, especially in our world of memes and other forms of social media gags.
The article covers the Chapman Brothers, who manipulated Goya’s prints on war. The article shares “The brothers’ “rectification” of the 82 prints, aptly named Insult to Injury, made its first appearance in a 2003 show called The Rape of Creativity at the Modern Art Oxford (Jones). It drew widespread criticism for “vandalizing” and “defacing” an Old Master’s work while simultaneously garnering praise for bringing to light the true horrors of war. These “enfants terribles of the art world,” continued to be labeled as either adolescent narcissists or the champions of humanism.”
While reading chapter five in the short book Regarding the Pain of Other by Susan Sontag for class, I was able to hone in and really dig into the content Sontag was discussing in the chapter. What stood out to me the most was her discussion on the photographer Sebastião Salgado who went to 40 countries in six years to be among the world’s migrants and refugees so that he could tell visual stories of their difficult journeys as they leave their homes for places and lives unknown to them. This topic stemmed from the idea of war, sadness, tragedy, and horrific events among other things being photographed as beautiful.
I found the fact that Salgado is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador interesting considering the argument of whether he accurately coveres the tragedies being faced by refugees. Salgado had said (of the refugees) that “they were frightened, uncomfortable and humiliated. Yet they allowed themselves to be photographed, I believe, because they wanted their plight to be made known. When I could, I explained to them that this was my purpose. Many just stood before my camera and addressed it as they might a microphone.” Salgado is related and put to the same standards of Robert Capa, Chim and Henri Cartier-Bresson tradition, and what he photographs is not what most of his audience, or at least most of the audience for his latest exhibition at the International Center of Photography in Midtown Manhattan, would regard as normal life. He was born in Brazil, first became an economist and whilst traveling began taking photography seriously.