[Editor and writer, b. 1952, Johannesburg, South Africa, d. 2015, New York.]
Beautification of tragedy results in pictures that ultimately reinforce our passivity toward the experience they reveal.
To aestheticize tragedy is the fastest way to anesthetize the feelings of those who are witnessing it. Beauty is a call to admiration, not to action.
The blatantly mechanistic condition bound to photographic seeing has confounded photographic discourse. One-way thinking has stratified this moonlighting medium ever since its invention, zoning it into polemic ghettos walled off by hegemonies and hierarchies.
... we, today’s audience, know that pictures can “lie,” and like the photographers themselves, we assume that magazines can use pictures to slant things. Meaningful photojournalism today requires an appetite for challenge, a belief in the power of the medium, and an internal alarm system against stereotyping.
[Sebastião] Salgado is far too busy with the compositional aspects of his pictures—with finding the “grace” and “beauty” in the twisted forms of his anguished subjects…. This is photography that runs on a kind of emotional blackmail fuelled by a dramatics of art direction.