October 20th, 2004

rock shadow

identity kits and photography

I can't remember how I heard about it, but recently I discovered the "Identity Kits" project. Much of the visual studies literature depicts the act of photographing as implicitly condoning that which is photographed, but my feelings are more aligned with this project:
The recording of the homeless scene and of homeless people is regarded as "victim" photography by contemporary photography theorists. For the documentary photographer such a criticism, if taken as gospel, prevents the bearing of witness to social conditions, and assists in the elimination of particular pieces of visual social history. A vacuum is thus created into which a new interpretation is possible, based on whatever brand of political ideology is being proposed.

Speaking of photography, I recently rediscovered the work of Sebastiao Salgado. While the photography is moving, I can't help but feel the same impotency and frustration that I feel when I read news articles about distant atrocities. These help raise my awareness about the world, but at the expense of my emotional health.