Friday, September 22, 2006

Robert Polidori

All artists, as best they can, make sense of a world that is often senseless. Mr. Polidori’s work, from Chernobyl to Havana — in sometimes dangerous, topsy-turvy, out-of-time places — generally bears witness to profound neglect. A photojournalist’s compulsion and problem is always to contrive beauty from misery, and it is only human to feel uneasy about admiring pictures like these from New Orleans, whose sumptuousness can be disorienting. But the works also express an archaeologist’s aspiration to document plain-spoken truth, and they are without most of the tricks of the trade that photographers exploit to turn victims into objects and pictures of pain into tributes to themselves.

From What's Wrong with This Picture?
September 22, 2006 NYtimes


scruffylooking said...

The funny/odd thing that I noticed after the tornado hit my neighborhood, was that it was fine for me to take photographs, but when anyone came from outside to document, there was so much animosity toward them. It's got to be tricky to even have victims let you in to document.

travis said...

Mr. Kimmelman makes a good point. But, this is the sort of thing that drives me batty about photography. Do photographers use "tricks" to make things look more beautiful....yes. Do photographer's use tricks to makes things uglier....yes. So which is it pretty, or ugly. Who knows? It depends on who's looking. There can't really be a "plain spoken truth", can there? To capture the idea of something like natural destruction, it takes more than a still picture. It takes an image, or several images, or objects, or moving pictures, or smells to really understand the thing/experience. The stillness alone makes this picture quiet, and to me, sort of pretty. Probably not what the event was like, right? Maybe the photographer was trying to show the calm after the storm, if so this sort of works. So, I geuss it comes down to a picture is just a picture. What do you think?