28 May 2009

Best Shots (73) ~ Sebastião Salgado

(100) Sebastião Salgado ~ Kuwait, 1991. (28 May 2009).
P.S.: In The New York Times today (31 May) there is a story on Salgado as well. It is, I suspect, just a matter of time before the tired complaints about his work start to resurface. That will provide fodder for future posts.



Blogger Unknown said...

This week my doc photo class has been dealing with Salgado's photos of the Sahel. All are entranced by the technical quality and the beauty of his work. I have tried to get them to discuss the criticisms of Sischy and Sontag re: making beauty from misery, all are just too stunned by the work to even consider any shred of negative criticism. This shot on your blog is another brilliant photograph of a truly miserable and environmentally devastating scene. Salgado is constitutionally unable to take a "bad" photo, I like to think he makes these photos to give dignity and beauty to people and nature even if either are in a terrible way.

29 May, 2009 08:30  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...


I myself do not put much stock in the Sischey and Sontag criticisms. In part that is because I think they are trading on a particular, conventional, and not terribly persuasive set of assumptions about how photographs should affect viewers. (This leads Sontag to draw comparisons between Salgado and Nhem Ein, the Khemer rouge photographer who took mug shots of prisoners at Tuol Sleng Prison during the genocide! On my view that comparison is a strong signal that Sontag is way off track.)

I also think that the notion that beauty/aestheticism is necessarily problematic is not as it typically is assumed to be. You might see the comments Salgado makes in this document: http://townsendcenter.berkeley.edu/op26.shtml

There is also a nice little book by literary critic Elaine Scarry called On Beauty & Being Just that is relevant too. The issues here are difficult and complicated. I've not thought them through, but it seems like we need to focus on the uses of beauty and not presume that it somehow is threatening to the quest for justice.

29 May, 2009 10:36  
Blogger KJSC said...

Wow....This is the kind of blog i'm also looking for..politics, photography, LGBT? , Jon Stewart!

keeping myself updated to your blog

29 May, 2009 20:50  

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