The Politics of Josef Koudelka's WALL
"Koudelka’s pictures have an eerie, meditative texture. Many of them are structured around the glaring contrast between the Wall, always intrusive, harsh, ophidian, and the organic, still living world of hills, terraces, and valleys on either side of it. Paradoxically, these photographs are beautiful, almost too beautiful, to look at—despite, or perhaps because of, the raw wound they reveal."I've lifted the passage above from this post at NYRB that Israeli activist and academic David Shulman has written on a new book* by Josef Koudelka. Shulman, himself a member of an Israeli-Palestinian Peace group called Ta‘ayush (meaning roughly 'living together'), is intimately familiar with the politics surrounding what the Israeli government euphemistically calls "separation barrier." I admire both Koudelka and Shulman immensely and have posted on each frequently- see here and here respectively. Here are a baker's half-dozen images from Koudelka:
As Shulman attests these images depersonalize suffering. Does their beauty - and the fact that they are more or less wholly de-populated - deflate the all to common worry that photography aestheticizes suffering?
* Josef Koudelka. WALL. (NY: Aperture, 2013).