Thursday, June 4, 2009

portraiture and 'controversies'

i thought that Michael Kimmelman's great review of the Controversies exhibit in Paris was especially thought-provoking in light of my last post and issues i've been thinking about lately in portraiture and subjecthood.  an excerpt below, from the New York Times.

"By virtue of its economy and proliferation, photography has been one of the most convenient weapons of the powerless even while it serves the powers that be. During the early 1960s, when French authorities required Algerians to have identity cards, a conscript in the French Army, Marc Garanger, was ordered to shoot their portraits. He photographed some 2,000 Algerian women, many of whom had been, until they uncovered themselves for his camera, veiled throughout their adult lives.

This was a profound violation for these women. Making the pictures turned Mr. Garanger entirely against French rule. He registered his opposition in these official portraits, through the humanity of his subjects, whose anger, which the pictures make perfectly obvious, conveyed both their oppression and resistance.

“For 24 months I never stopped, sure that one day I would be able to testify with these images,” Mr. Garanger recalled two decades later. “All of this I did with more force than the dominant military ideology of the era that surrounded me with hatred and violence.”

With more enduring effect anyway. A particularly beautiful portrait of a woman named Cherid Barkaoun, mournful but proud, large eyes kohl-rimmed, hair braided, absently clutching a scarf to her chest as if to keep hold of some sliver of privacy, reaches across half a century."     --Michael Kimmelman


Mariana Soffer said...

The 2 times I read your post I thought about 2 photographers, one was Bresson, which I see is mention in the NY times article, the other was the one that took the picture of the naked kid running
away from the atomic bomb explosion.

Maybe one of the interesting things about photography is that it portraits in a two dimensional sheet of paper the controversies and paradoxes of reality, with a
sensation of strong immediacy and reality.

And the other is that for the first time the snapshot album provided the man on the street with a permanent record of his family and its activities.For the first time in history there exists an authentic visual record of
the appearance and activities of the common man made without interpretation or bias.

PD:Susan Sontag words are beyond words for me.

Liana said...


Sebastien Boncy said...

The words Marc Garanger fill my mouth with vomit, thank god I'm typing.
Step One: Compare the actual photographs(look closely) with what he says about them.
Step Two: Look at Algeria's history of resistance.
Step Three: Look at the "humanist" imposition in occupied Arab Land and the power dynamic coded in European made representations.
It's a good way to loose a few pounds.

Mike Wood said...

Intense imagery. Though I was struck with the thought that by reposting her image it was a similar injustice against the woman who was forced to pose for the image. Narrative like that needs to be shared though.

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That photograph really leaves a bad taste in my mouth after reading the article!

Jophet Garmon said...

I miss your blog posting.

imhkki said...

impressive photo

Montag said...

The matters spoken of in this post go very, very deep.

If we had any intelligence, we would learn from it. Thank God, we have none.

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