≡ The way collectors ‘gift’ us with ‘the lynching photographs’ (or should they ever) ≡

On January 28th 2011 I attended a lecture by Anthony d’Offay, held at the Glasgow School of Art. d’Offay is an art dealer, collector and curator who is famous not only for the huge monetary funding of Joseph Beuys’ work (the thing for which I remembered him the most), but for the huge impact in the promotion of arts, in particular conceptual art. 

After the new millennium d’Offay made it into the headlines for two big events: 1) for the decision to close down all his galleries when they were at their heights; 2) for having sold his £125m art collection to the National Galleries of Scotland and to the Tate for a knockdown £26m. Follow the link if you’re interested in understanding why this is the act of an art dealer and not of a philanthropist.

Today his signature is probably better seen at the Artist Rooms. In the official site, the project is described as a gift:

“ARTIST ROOMS is a collection of international modern and contemporary art, established through one of the largest and most imaginative gifts of art ever made to museums in Britain. It is owned on behalf of the United Kingdom by the National Galleries of Scotland and Tate who together care for the Collection and arrange for its presentation across the country.”

Don’t get me wrong, I couldn’t care less about his trading skills and I recognize his collection is amazing and very much worth seeing. The problem is that I attended that lecture in 2011 and since then I can’t retain anything else about him except for what was showed and the discussion that followed. I’ll explain: Anthony d’Offay’s lecture at the GSA was not only focused on his collection but on a particular aspect of it: a collection of 20th century photographs and documents (roughly from 1900 to 1971) about the struggle of black Americans for freedom, entitled Without Sanctuary, and showed in the form of a 30m film.

As I now try to track the origins of such a collection at first I get very confused. d’Offay’s online video has no mention other than “Without Sanctuary: Black Struggle in America”, and there is a website with the same name that presents a collection (by James Allen) of photographs and postcards taken as souvenirs at lynchings throughout America. Anyway, d’Offay’s video is not quite as I remember it (I’ll refer to him as the author since there is no mention of an editor or video artist). For starters, a couple of photographs from the black community in the Cotton Fields, then photographs documenting segregation, and finally the set I remember well: the photographs of lynchings by Ku Klux Klan, echoing to the voice of Nina Simone singing Strange Fruit, echoing!!… during 3 minutes (from 06:00 to 09:00; at the time it felt like it lasted for the entire film)). As Nina Simone cries through the poem, comparing rotten fruit to dead (black) bodies, images of lynchings fade in and fade out, zoom in and out of burnt (black) bodies, hanged (black) bodies, human (white) smiles and (white) jubilation.

These are followed by representations of white power and the civil rights fight from Rosa Parks to Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and the Black Power that last the following 21 minutes! At the lecture, once the film was over, the discomfort was evident and it didn’t take long for a voice to erupt from the crowd criticizing the option of making a film such as this and showing such brutal imagery in melancholic way. The discussion was fierce. I remember leaving before it ended, because I felt sick, both because of the images as well as because of some arguments used by people defending the film.

In Regarding the Pain of Others, Susan Sontag mentions the 68 gruesome lynching photographs collected by James Allen, exhibited in New York in 2000 and published under the name “Without Sanctuary”. She also asks the right questions:

«The lynching pictures tell us about human wickedness. About inhumanity. They force us to think about the extent of the evil unleashed specifically by racism. Intrinsic to the perpetration of this evil is the shamelessness of photographing it. The pictures were taken as souvenirs and made, some of them, into postcards; more than a few show grinning spectators, good churchgoing citizens as most of them had to be, posing for a camera with the backdrop of a naked, charred, mutilated body hanging from a tree. The display of these pictures makes us spectators, too.

What is the point of exhibiting these pictures? To awaken indignation? To make us feel “bad”; that is, to appall and sadden? To help us mourn? Is looking at such pictures really necessary, given that these horrors lie in a past remote enough to be beyond punishment? Are we the better for seeing these images? Do they actually teach us anything? Don’t they rather just confirm what we already know (or want to know)?» (2003, pp.72-73)

I see a point in preserving memory of human history no matter how far long the events report to, but there is obviously no risk human kind forgets how inhuman it has always been. As Sontag also notes (somewhere): peace is the exception, not the rule. So why show us such violent images in an embellished way and under the tone of Nina Simone? I see absolutely no reason for that other than being distasteful and sensationalist. We know of the lynchings and what the black community has had to endure at the hands of the white supremacy. It’s still present tense, as Americans know well. We do not need to see it in the form of a photograph for the events to be believable. In fact, those photographs, over which the author chose to apply film effects, are tossed away into a distant dimension just because they are presented like that, as artifacts, as an object so contained in itself alienates the spectator.

≡ Salgado, Nachtwey and Sontag: to shoot AND not to shoot, is that the question? ≡

Yesterday, after watching the documentary about the work of Sebastião Salgado I found myself trying to give an answer to the question then asked: does it matter if we cry?

I think it does, the same way I think that actions need to be taken even when consequences are unknown, the same way I think chaos is bound to potentate new meanings. The question then is not if our empathy or agape can generate any good, but if photographs contribute to the sort of empathic feeling that triggers action. When thinking about Salgado’s photographs, I honestly don’t think they do any justice to the idea of the socially engaged photographer. Are his photographs humanistic? Yes, I guess they are, for there is no doubt about the author’s commitment to the work and about his empathy towards his subjects. But does the work account for the lives depicted? For the particular stories? For the social environments? Or does it instead paint such realities in an impressionistic way, blurred and beautified?

ma-31747994-WEB© Sebastião Salgado, Blind Tuareg Human, Mali, 1985.

Caption: With dead eyes worn out by sand storms and chronic infections, this woman from the region of Gondan has arrived at the end of her voyage.

Sontag’s words in Regarding the Pain of Others (2003, Picador) are still, to this day, echoing in my mind when ethics in photography is the question. In chapter V, she criticizes the way the ugly is made beautiful and how pithiness is not what documentary photography should be aiming for: “Pity can entail a moral judgment if, as Aristotle maintains, pity is considered to be the emotion that we owe only to those enduring undeserved misfortune.” (p. 59) There is a sort of perversity in making beautiful pictures out of the disgrace of others, not only because they transform reality into art and thus alienate us from the real human dramas, but also because they can make the viewer feel guilty and ashamed just for thinking the photograph is beautiful. There is guilt, pity and shame involved and guess where this trilogy leads us…

“Photographer-witnesses may think it more correct morally to make the spectacular not spectacular. But the spectacular is very much part of the religious narratives by which suffering, throughout most of Western history, has been understood.” (Sontag, 2003, p. 63)

Sontag is also very clear about the role of photography as a document:

“Photographs that depict suffering shouldn’t be beautiful, as captions shouldn’t moralize. In this view, a beautiful photograph drains attention from the sobering subject and turns it toward the medium itself, thereby compromising the picture’s status as a document. The photograph gives mixed signals. Stop this, it urges. But it also exclaims, What a spectacle!” (p. 61)

In an article regarding James Nachtwey’s Photographs of Tuberculosis Crisis in Siberian Prison Colonies, Pete Brook compares Nachtwey to Salgado, describing both as ‘super-photographers’ who “make the ugly beautiful”. But even if Brook acknowledges their work as being able to force itself “into the conscience of millions”, he adds: “For some his [Nachtwey] work is an inspiration for social justice; but for others his work is a sub-conscious default to guilt, despondency and powerlessness to help others less fortunate.

slide1© James Nachtwey, Rwanda, part of Inferno.

Sontag cynically names a new category for ‘super-photographers’ such as Nachtwey and Salgado: “a photographer who specializes in world misery” (p. 61) and then goes on to discuss the ‘inauthenticity of the beautiful’. But let’s go back to the genocide in Rwanda for a while. Both Nachtwey and Salgado have documented the tragedy. In a review of Nachtwey’s book Inferno, he speaks about his willing to be absent as an author, to be a messenger and although that’s just coming from a photojournalist, it’s really naïf. Nachtwey has a style and of course he knows it. Further ahead interviewer

DC: You see yourself primarily as a photojournalist, rather than as an artist. You don’t necessarily want people to think, Oh that’s a beautiful composition, when they see your work.

N: That’s right.

DC: Yet in going through the book, every now and then I’d be startled to find an image beautiful. And then I’d quickly realize I was looking at a nightmare. For example, there’s a photo you took in Rwanda. The first thing I noticed were the big heart-shaped, veined leaves. It’s a nature photo; it could be by Wynn Bullock or Edward Weston or Eliot Porter — that was my first impression. But then I saw a corpse lying face down in the grass under those beautiful big leaves.

N: I don’t think tragic situations are necessarily devoid of beauty. That’s one of the paradoxes of life, and one of the themes of art and literature. And it’s perhaps a way in which images become accessible to people. I try to record moments of beauty between people. I think that you’ll see, running throughout this book, images where people are reaching out to each other, where they’re caressing each other, or making contact in a tender way — expressing human beauty in the midst of suffering. This is what I think gives “Inferno” its underlying hope. I find it uplifting to see people transcending their own agony to reach out to others, and I see it continuously in these situations.

james-nachtwey© James Nachtwey, The massacre at Nyarabuye took place in the grounds of a Catholic Church and school. Hundreds of Tutsis, including many children, were slaughtered at close range, Rwanda, 1994.

Nachtwey’s answer is very unsatisfying for me. In fact, I don’t think he answers the question at all and instead of talking about photographing death he speaks of photographs of love and hope. For those who haven’t seen such tragedies it is important to understand the moment witnessed by the photographer, how he felt death and not how an amount of nameless bodies fits into one picture. There’s a risk of turning people into points and lines inside a frame, instead of naming them. Sontag addresses the issue in the context of Salgado«s work. She says:

the problem is in the pictures themselves, not how and where they are exhibited: in their focus on the powerless, reduced to their powerlessness. It is significant that the powerless are not named in the captions. A portrait that declines to name its subject becomes complicit, if inadvertendy in the cult of celebrity that has fueled an insatiable appetite for the opposite sort of photograph: to grant only the famous their names demotes the rest to representative instances of their occupations, their ethnicities, their plights.” (p. 62)

[ to be continued … ]

≡ Sebastião Salgado by Wim Winders: does it matter if we cry? ≡

ff445202-c619-45cd-9960-34b01f2e2dec© Sebastião Salgado, part of Mondrel Media press kit.

ff445202-c619-45cd-996t0-34b01f2e2dec© Sebastião Salgado, part of Mondrel Media press kit.

The Salt of the Earth (‘Le sel de la terre’/’O sal da terra’) is a documentary by WIM WENDERS and JULIANO RIBEIRO SALGADO about the brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado. Sebastião’s work for the past 40 years or so has shined a light on human condition, as he traveled all over the world witnessing dramatic events, such as global warming, devastation, starvation, war, working conditions and exodus.

In the documentary, in the role of the narrator, Wenders tells how filming a photographer is not like portraying anyone else:

“I learned one thing: having a photographer in front of your camera is very different from filming anybody else. He will not just be there and act like himself, so to speak. No. By profession, he reacts and responds using his weapon of choice, his photo-camera. And then shoots back.”

In the Mongrel Media press kit both directors are interviewed and Juliano, Salgado’s oldest son, is confronted with the alleged ‘inauthentic beauty’ of his father’s work:

Interviewer: Susan Sontag spoke of the “inauthenticity of the beautiful” in Salgado’s work. How do you respond to that?

Juliano: There are two aspects to Sontag’s reproach: the supposed fascination with poverty – or death, in fact – that the photographer felt, and the fact that the subjects are not identified, unlike the photographer, who is revered at their expense. In her critique, Sontag also denounces the cynicism of the media that commission and publish these photographs. I think it’s very unfair to associate Salgado with all that. He would spend several weeks, even several months in countries that were often torn apart, which he was drawn to by his urge to bear testimony. He needs to create a relationship with the person he’s going to photograph, and says that it is the subject who ends up “giving” him the photo. The emotion, the empathy guide him. I think that comes across very well in the film.

87b70cc1-e55d-436b-a91b-c62974884b95© Sebastião Salgado, part of Mondrel Media press kit.

5f3a1cca-7745-4873-a22a-0c5617124564© Sebastião Salgado, part of Mondrel Media press kit.

Curiously enough, the documentary accentuates the status of Salgado as author, rather than as witness. I see the beauty, not the brutality, nor even the grotesque aspect of that beauty. He has such an accentuated style that it takes over the subjects. The people, the animals, the nature and the events depicted in his photographs aren’t brought to life in film, which could help understand them as part of OUR reality and not only as part of Salgado’s two-dimensional universe. I can understand that the way these pictures got to be known is not entirely his responsibility. Nevertheless, the aspect I always disliked the most is: the prints, namely their tone, contrast and hyper-silver-like quality (even if he is not behind the enlarger or the printer). In the press kit already mentioned, the interviewer also asks Wenders about the beautification of tragedy in Salgado’s work. Wenders’s answer couldn’t be any clearer:

Interviewer: Did you encourage him to comment on his photographs by taking him back to the time and place where they were taken? A Brazilian gold mine, famine in the Sahel, the genocide in Rwanda, and so on. They are, for the most part, tragic images. Did you ever find them “too beautiful”, as some have reproached him?

Wenders: In the “dark room”, we ran through Sebastião’s entire photographic oeuvre, more or less in chronological order, for a good week. It was very difficult for him – and for us too behind the camera – because some of the accounts and journeys are deeply disturbing, and a few are genuinely chilling. Sebastião felt as if he was returning to these places, and for us, these internal journeys «to the heart of darkness» were also overwhelming. Sometimes we’d stop and I had to go out for a walk to get a bit of distance on what I’d just seen and heard. As for the question of whether his photographs are too beautiful, or too aestheticized, I totally disagree with those criticisms. When you photograph poverty and suffering, you have to give a certain dignity to your subject, and avoid slipping into voyeurism. It’s not easy. It can only be achieved on condition that you develop a good rapport with the people in front of the lens, and you really get inside their lives and their situation. Very few photographers manage this.

The majority of them arrive somewhere, fire off a few photographs, and get out. Sebastião doesn’t work like that. He spends time with the people he photographs to understand their situation, he lives with them, he sympathizes with them, and he shares their lives as far as possible. And he feels empathy for them. He does this job for the people, in order to give them a voice. Pictures snapped on the hoof and photographed in a “documentary” style cannot convey the same things. The more you find the right way to convey a situation in a convincing way, the closer you come to a language which corresponds to what you’re illustrating and to the subject in front of you, the more you make a real effort to obtain a “good photo”, and the more you give nobility to your subject and make it stand out. I think that Sebastião offered real dignity to all those people who found themselves in front of his lens. His photographs aren’t about him, but about all those people!

sebastiao salgado-caceria© Sebastião Salgado, Tutsis, Ruanda, 1994/5.

Roughly one hour through the documentary and regarding the Exodus project (1993-1999), we see how Salgado has a special relation to Africa. In 1994 he goes to Ruanda to document the genocide – the massive killing of Tutsis. The image above grabbed my attention. While it stays on screen, Salgado speaks about the enormous amount of death people found along the roads and he claims (my translation): “There and then I understood the magnitude of the catastrophe I was living in. A genocide was underway in that country.

If I cry hearing Saldago’s description of the tragedies he witnessed in Ruanda is not because of his photographs but because he is living proof of such events and our humanity. That is what I admire about Salgado: having a nomadic, adventurous and activist spirit. His photographs can’t account for the conflicts in Ruanda, Mali or Congo. They’re too dynamic, too alive, they don’t fit into photographs without corrupting the nature of the events depicted. I’ll give him that. I may cry, as I often do when I hear about other world events, but how far can this empathic feeling go?

⁞ Smoke Art Photography: from palestinian reality to photographic illusion ⁞

I had never heard of this kind of illustration until I came across it in Juan Cole’s blog Informed Comment. As Cole explains, there is a new trend called Smoke Art Photography: “[a] Palestinian blogger from Gaza, Refaat Alareer has been collecting digital altercations of photos of Israeli airstrikes exploding over their communities. Within the clouds of smoke and debris, are various pictures. Some contain nationalist Palestinian symbols, others simple drawings of faces. These faces range from having solemn expressions to those that are crying over the destruction below them.
[…]
These photos have been shared widely on social media and are windows into the dreams and imagination of Palestinian youth living under constant siege. Many of these works are anonymous. These images remind us of how we looked up at the clouds as children to see shapes of animals, dragons, people, faces — anything one’s imagination could conjure. It’s also a grim reminder that under this destructive black cloud there are people who are affected by this persistent violence. It’s almost as if these faces are looking at Gaza, surveying the damage and mourning over what had happened.”

Here are some examples, taken from wattan tv news.

1903021_801801956518959_3501618612632759108_n

10431384_818658354811818_3984599597884932495_o

10501601_744780308919162_5505434864576639306_n

10511105_744268518970341_3401993911139358622_n

10559743_695010580575846_5630864400817626893_n

gaza-israel-rocket-strike-smoke-art-29

٠ Andrei Liankevich ٠

1234© Andrei Liankevich, all photographs from the series Goodbye, Motherland, 2011

The “Goodbye, Motherland” project explores the attitude to WWII in Belarus. Belarus has only one ideology – war ideology. Belarus Independence Day is the day when the capital was freed from the Nazi occupation. The main streets in the capital are named after war heroes, which is around 30% of all streets names. The latest research shows that people can hardly remember who the person the street is named after was. Everything in Belarus starts from and ends in: “We won the war. We are heroes”.

7658© Andrei Liankevich, all photographs from the series Goodbye, Motherland, 2011

Liankevich describes his inspiration in his own words: “War has never been anything close to me in [an] emotional sense. It was the story about ‘every fourth man who died in Belarus.’ But I have never sensed it personally. There was no sorrow, no pain.” From this standpoint the collection unfolds in faded faces, sleeping soldiers and strange personal paramilitary objects (busts of generals, canteens, manikins in uniform). Liankevich’s photos are eerie and haunting, they seem to look into the past as if one were looking through a swimming pool at people and places. This coupling of theme and material is an ideal marriage of medium with idea.

┐ Tomas Young’s last letter └

richards-2richards-4from Eugene Richard‘s series War is Personal

Days after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Tomas Young, then a 22-year-old from Kansas City, Mo., made a decision repeated by many other Americans around the country: He was going to enlist in the military in hopes of getting even with the enemies who had helped coordinate the deaths of nearly 3,000 men, women and children.
Less than three years later, Young’s Army service placed him not in Afghanistan — where then-President George W. Bush had told the nation the terrorist plot had originated — but in Iraq. On April 4, 2004, just five days into his first tour, Young’s convoy was attacked by insurgents. A bullet from an AK-47 severed his spine. Another struck his knee. Young would never walk again, and in fact, for the next nearly nine years, he would suffer a number of medical setbacks that allowed him to survive only with the help of extensive medical procedures and the care of his wife, Claudia.
The incident turned Young into one of the most vocal veteran critics of the Iraq War. He has, however, saved his most powerful criticism for what he claims will be his last. Young says he’ll die soon, but not before writing a letter to Bush and former Vice President Cheney on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War.

Tomas prepared things so that he will be gone this next April. Here is his last letter, as published in Truthdig, a MUST READ:

“I write this letter on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War on behalf of my fellow Iraq War veterans. I write this letter on behalf of the 4,488 soldiers and Marines who died in Iraq. I write this letter on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of veterans who have been wounded and on behalf of those whose wounds, physical and psychological, have destroyed their lives. I am one of those gravely wounded. I was paralyzed in an insurgent ambush in 2004 in Sadr City. My life is coming to an end. I am living under hospice care.

I write this letter on behalf of husbands and wives who have lost spouses, on behalf of children who have lost a parent, on behalf of the fathers and mothers who have lost sons and daughters and on behalf of those who care for the many thousands of my fellow veterans who have brain injuries. I write this letter on behalf of those veterans whose trauma and self-revulsion for what they have witnessed, endured and done in Iraq have led to suicide and on behalf of the active-duty soldiers and Marines who commit, on average, a suicide a day. I write this letter on behalf of the some 1 million Iraqi dead and on behalf of the countless Iraqi wounded. I write this letter on behalf of us all—the human detritus your war has left behind, those who will spend their lives in unending pain and grief.

I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.

Your positions of authority, your millions of dollars of personal wealth, your public relations consultants, your privilege and your power cannot mask the hollowness of your character. You sent us to fight and die in Iraq after you, Mr. Cheney, dodged the draft in Vietnam, and you, Mr. Bush, went AWOL from your National Guard unit. Your cowardice and selfishness were established decades ago. You were not willing to risk yourselves for our nation but you sent hundreds of thousands of young men and women to be sacrificed in a senseless war with no more thought than it takes to put out the garbage.

I joined the Army two days after the 9/11 attacks. I joined the Army because our country had been attacked. I wanted to strike back at those who had killed some 3,000 of my fellow citizens. I did not join the Army to go to Iraq, a country that had no part in the September 2001 attacks and did not pose a threat to its neighbors, much less to the United States. I did not join the Army to “liberate” Iraqis or to shut down mythical weapons-of-mass-destruction facilities or to implant what you cynically called “democracy” in Baghdad and the Middle East. I did not join the Army to rebuild Iraq, which at the time you told us could be paid for by Iraq’s oil revenues. Instead, this war has cost the United States over $3 trillion. I especially did not join the Army to carry out pre-emptive war. Pre-emptive war is illegal under international law. And as a soldier in Iraq I was, I now know, abetting your idiocy and your crimes. The Iraq War is the largest strategic blunder in U.S. history. It obliterated the balance of power in the Middle East. It installed a corrupt and brutal pro-Iranian government in Baghdad, one cemented in power through the use of torture, death squads and terror. And it has left Iran as the dominant force in the region. On every level—moral, strategic, military and economic—Iraq was a failure. And it was you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, who started this war. It is you who should pay the consequences.

I would not be writing this letter if I had been wounded fighting in Afghanistan against those forces that carried out the attacks of 9/11. Had I been wounded there I would still be miserable because of my physical deterioration and imminent death, but I would at least have the comfort of knowing that my injuries were a consequence of my own decision to defend the country I love. I would not have to lie in my bed, my body filled with painkillers, my life ebbing away, and deal with the fact that hundreds of thousands of human beings, including children, including myself, were sacrificed by you for little more than the greed of oil companies, for your alliance with the oil sheiks in Saudi Arabia, and your insane visions of empire.

I have, like many other disabled veterans, suffered from the inadequate and often inept care provided by the Veterans Administration. I have, like many other disabled veterans, come to realize that our mental and physical wounds are of no interest to you, perhaps of no interest to any politician. We were used. We were betrayed. And we have been abandoned. You, Mr. Bush, make much pretense of being a Christian. But isn’t lying a sin? Isn’t murder a sin? Aren’t theft and selfish ambition sins? I am not a Christian. But I believe in the Christian ideal. I believe that what you do to the least of your brothers you finally do to yourself, to your own soul.

My day of reckoning is upon me. Yours will come. I hope you will be put on trial. But mostly I hope, for your sakes, that you find the moral courage to face what you have done to me and to many, many others who deserved to live. I hope that before your time on earth ends, as mine is now ending, you will find the strength of character to stand before the American public and the world, and in particular the Iraqi people, and beg for forgiveness.”

┐ Photographs from inside the Israeli army └

osher_naked_gun_in_crotch

“…Israeli soldiers’ use of social media has given a unique insight into an “army” that functions more like a rabble – with soldiers misusing weapons, breaking laws, and expressing violent and extreme views and posting images of themselves doing it online.

A case in point is Osher Maman, another 20-year-old Israeli soldier currently enlisted in the “elite” Golani Brigade.

Maman’s Instagram account currently includes 549 images which show, among other things, images of him mishandling weapons and breaking military laws. The earliest date from April 2012 and the most recent from today. An illustrative selection – with tags where he included them – are used throughout this post. Maman also expresses deeply racist and even genocidal views towards Palestinians and Arabs. (Note: following publication of this article, Maman has deleted his various social media accounts).bullet_art green_tips_0

What does it mean that the Israeli army recruits a soldier, with a dubious history, who is stupid enough to post images of himself committing more criminal offenses?

Is this a man who should be handling – playing with – lethal weapons in any circumstances? Or does it mean that this Most Moral Army so lacks discipline that soldiers like Maman can break the law without fear of consequences?

A lust for violence and genocidal hatred of Arabs

Osher Maman freely expresses his deep, even genocidal hatred of Palestinians and his desire to see them oppressed and killed. Responding to a comment on one of his images, for example, Maman told the commenter

Lmao for all I care you can comment all my pictures, you’re still a fucking Arab pile of shit, you even smell like it. You’re never going to win over israel (the chosen people) bc you’re a bunch of slaves, shit I probably am the slave master of some Arab who’s related to you… An you all will stay trapped in gaza and every little shittt village that you Palestinians have inside of israel. And you will continue to go to our jails and to have your houses broken in to. Basically your life will be shit until you all die, so go ahead and have fun commenting on my pictures of that’s going to make your death a little better…”

excerpt of the article Stoned, naked, armed and dangerous: more disturbing images from an Israeli soldier’s Instagram, by Ali Abunimah on electronic intifada. continue reading here

Another interesting article about the use of pictures and social media in the context of war The Instagram War: Gaza & Israel, 2012 byMichael Shaw here

┐ Blindness └

all photos © Adam Hinton in Gaza, 2012

all drawings © Joe Sacco, taken from Footnotes in Gaza, 2010. An interview with Joe Sacco about the book and the massacres reported in it here

Articles about the Palestine/Israle conflict can be accessed via Stop the War Coalition

┐ الحرية لفلسطين └

© Sofia Silva, qui sème la misère, récolte la colère (wip detail), from the series The Protester, 2012

Freedom for Palestine

Resistance Égalité

Free Palestine canalblog

┐ Sara Rahbar └

© Sara Rahbar, Untitled, from the series Love arrived & How red, photography, 2008

© Sara Rahbar, Trapped in Dark Night with Nowhere to Run, I Have Died a Million Times Every Night in this Bed (left) + Kurdistan Flag #5 (right), from the series Flags, mixed media + textiles, 2005-2010

© Sara Rahbar, Solitary (left) + Anonymously yours (right), from the series Confessions of a Sinner, mixed media, 2011/12

Rahbar seems to meditate on the flag like a monk would stare at an icon. “It represents my father and so many, many promises and hopes of tomorrow … It represents endless possibilities, escapes, and mirages … it’s a very loaded image for me,” Rahbar explained. “Years and years of memories, experiences and attachments, and what is the work but a direct reflection of my life? What I’m focusing on, and what is boiling, twisting and turning inside of me.”

(…)

“And I remember how I worked on one of my first flags. I was traveling from Tehran to Kurdistan with Hossein a very dear friend of mine. He was going to work as a soundman for a film and I was going to photograph Kurdistan and try to figure out my next project and what to do with the rest of my life.”

“We lived in Kurdistan together for months, I would write, take photographs and gather random found objects and textiles that were used for donkeys and horses and sew them onto my flag. I would sit somewhere, sew for a bit, roll up the flag, put it in my backpack, and continue to take photographs, everything was on the go and very natural and in the moment. I worked to work out the turbulence that existed within me; I was healing myself and at the same time communicating an immense pain as I always am with my work. The work is a byproduct of me; emotionally and mentally, it keeps me together. I take care of it and it takes care of me.” excerpt of article by Hrag Vartanian, in Hyperallergic. continue reading here.

More of Sara’s work here

┐ Davide Monteleone – Northern Caucasus └

© David Monteleone, Daghestan, Russia, 2009. Ghimri, during a bull sacrifice

© David Monteleone, Republic of Ingushetia, 2010. Nazran, during a wedding

© David Monteleone, Republic of Chechnya, 2010. Old portrait of Sheik Mansur and Sheik Artzanov

“At first there was the Russian Empire, Saint Petersburg’s splendour, nobles’ dynasties set against commons far and distant, scattered on an unlimited country. Later on came communism’s turn, with its pyramidal hierarchy, its ideology imposed without any discussion for a “superior common good” that revealed itself utopian and elusive. Walls and curtains finally fell down, but renewal’s winds were broken off by the chill of something more indefinite and creeping. Something nobody talks about, but nobody can dispute. A dictatorship replaced by another, worst.

Therefore time passed over counts and masters, hierarchs and politicians, arms of the law and armed arms. And all the past reflects itself in people’s eyes. A population that becomes silent and fierce, strong and proud, persons for whom an endearment never last long, family’s ceremonial is reduced to the least, men and women live suspended in a time space different from that one of the rest of the world. Places where blood has flown too much, where too often it is forbidden to mourn one’s own dead, where screams become mute, and hiding turned into habit. Caucasus’ regions.

The Caucasus is a concentrate of stereotypes as well as surprises. For centuries it has been land of political, religious, military and expansionistic rivalry, cruel struggle between opposing States and also between allied states. Ever since the beginning of the 19th century this region has been part of the tsarist Russian Empire, later absorbed by the Soviet Bloc.

The 1991 radical transformations involving the entire Warsaw Pact coalition, and the storm caused by the collapse of the Soviet Union, got new and ancient disputes resurfaced, and in some cases worsen, and revived political and economic aims of supremacy in the area.

This project takes into account the countries in which disputes and struggles are not over yet or only apparently seem concluded, as intermittent fires under the political rhetoric of “normalization” and “pacification”. I began to investigate the daily life of people living in the Northern Caucasus, who are still divided between the claim for independence and the pride for their diversity, economic subordination, the historical-political and mental affiliation, condemned to an eternal geographic position in an oblivion, the elaboration of a new post-soviet identity.”

David’s statement

More of his work here