01 June 2009

Blind Subjects

" . . . photographs echo photographs . . ." ~ Susan Sontag

Andrea Islas Garcia, farmer, blind from cataracts, Beunavista 1998. Photograph © Marco A. Cruz

According to this story in The Globe and Mail (Toronto), Mexican photographer Marco Antonio Cruz has won the Grange Prize due largely to a set of work on blindness. The work is indeed striking. Of course, Cruz is hardly the first photographer to have focused on this subject. Geoff Dyer begins his The Ongoing Moment [1] [2] [3] [4] with an extended reflection on the myriad renowned photographers - Lewis Hine, Paul Strand, Walker Evans, Andre Kertesz, Ben Shahn, August Sander, Bruce Davidson, Gary Winograd, Phillip-Lorca diCorcia - who've made remarkable images of blind persons. Dyer suggests:
The blind subject is the objective corollary of the photographer's longed-for invisibility. It comes as no surprise therefore - the logic of the medium seems almost to demand it - that so many photographers have made pictures of the blind (13).
One of the first posts I made here took up this claim that photographers aspire - in fact or in the ideal - to be invisible. I continue to think the claim is mistaken. Indeed, I am not sure how it could be credible. For all that, Dyer's book is really smart. And Cruz's work continues many of the themes he raises.

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