Showing posts with label photography. Show all posts
Showing posts with label photography. Show all posts

Friday, September 9, 2016

Who Controls History? Facebook and the "Napalm Girl" Photograph

It is one of the most iconic photographs of the twentieth century.  I would argue that for many, it tells the story of the American war in Vietnam, or the Vietnam War, more eloquently than any other image.  The picture is often called simply, "the napalm girl."

And Facebook decided to censor it.  Because the child depicted is not wearing any clothes.

Because she was burned so badly that she was basically on fire.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Night Will Fall: A Meditation on Representation

At ceremonies and pilgrimages, through newspaper accounts and private reflection, people around the world observed the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz last week.  It has become a touchstone date, a moment for remembrance, a call to witness. 

Perhaps the ghosts of the Holocaust were with us as well.  In a locked room at Auschwitz in which an the Italian television crew and Jewish leaders found themselves trapped. Amidst silence and candlelight at vigils across the globe.  
And in André Singers' film "Night Will Fall," which aired around the world on January 27th.


Night Will Fall is a film about witnessing.  About survival amidst death. About the ways to tell a story, the impact of the visual, the politics of evidence.  About the power of solid historical research to deepen our understanding of both the past and the horizons and the limits of our humanity.  It is a difficult and necessary film.


There's been much ado about the documentary, and for good reason.  It introduces most viewers to historical newsreel footage of the Allied liberation of Nazi concentration camps that British filmmaker Sidney Bernstein used to create the film "German Concentration Camps Factual Survey."  Bernstein's film was never completed, the project ultimately axed because the US Army withdrew its footage due to fears of alienating Germans at a critical point in the early Cold War.  

Some of the US footage was used by Billy Wilder, an Austrian Jew and Hollywood director , members of whose immediate family were killed in the Holocaust.  Wilder produced "Death Mills" for the U.S. Department of War.  Its purpose was perhaps best expressed by the intro for US audiences to the English language version of the short film, which played in German in cities and towns across occupied Germany and Austria to showcase Nazi atrocities.  "It is a reminder that behind the curtain of Nazi pageants and parades, millions of men, women and children were tortured to death -- the worst mass murder in human history." The Bernstein film that was never made, (until recently under guidance of the Imperial War Museums staff,) was a subtler, more evocative exposé.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Historic Salem Re-Photography Class Photo of 2014

There  was drama from beginning to end.  Getting desks and chairs and setting them up outside Old Town Hall.  Getting  bunch of parking tickets at 8:23 a.m. (OK, I admit I am posting this in part to provide a link to it -- so I can prove to the Parking Hearing Officer that my entire class was downtown to set up this photo. I am hoping s/he will have mercy on me and my promise to protest or pay all the tickets!)  Getting wet on the rainy, slushy way to and from our site to take a photo to enter into a contest for first year seminar class pictures.  Since our class was on The City: History, Memory and Imagination, I think we did OK.







Saturday, August 2, 2014

Selfies in Crossfire

Not a lot in the news to inspire and hearten me at the moment. You?

As far as I am concerned, it has been one of the most painful news cycles in recent memory and the fractiousness of social media made me dial back my own presence in the virtual spaces that have become my stomping grounds.  I maintain that knowing what is happening in the world is a civic responsibility, but sometimes fulfilling that simple act is wearing.  Made more wearisome, of course, by my awareness that I enjoy a luxury not known or experienced by so many thousands of people living with, living through, living and dying amidst the throes of war, atrocity, earthquakes, epidemics.  The luxury of finding the news exhausting.


Amidst stories of ebola, of bodies falling out of the sky, of Gaza, Gaza, Gaza,  this photo of a grinning woman on the BBC news page caught my attention:





The photo seems to suggest, "Look at me.  I am smiling. So there."  Actually, that is pretty much what this selfie, like many others recently posted by women in Turkey, is saying.  As the BBC reported yesterday"There have been more than 300,000 tweets using the term "
kahkaha line-height: 18px;">" - the Turkish word for "laughter" - and on the hashtags "Resist Laughter" (#direnkahkaha and "Resist Woman" (#direnkadin.)