Estadio Nacional, SantiagoI have been in Chile since Sunday with my research group “Women Mobilizing Memory” – scholars, artists, friends from NYC, Santiago, and Istanbul. We spent 5 days in Chile visiting memorial sites and celebrating the election of Michelle Bachelat. Now I am on the beach in Concon, 2 hours from Santiago trying to digest it all. Yesterday we visited the soccer stadium where prisoners were taken after the coup on 9.11.73 until the end of November when the stadium was need to play soccer (!). It was an overwhelming experience which I cannot put into proper words yet, so I choose these photos. A section of the seats remain as they were.
TIME and the TIMES
I was brought to Time’s Light Box by a post on Facebook about this piece: Witness to a Syrian Execution: “I Saw a Scene of Utter Cruelty”. An unnamed (for his safety) photojournalist documented public beheadings in Syria. The first photo is the ‘before’ moment. I have not hit the play button to see the rest. Reading the title and seeing the first image is enough and then reading the article and words by the photographer is more than enough. Why would someone want or need to look at more? Why is there a need to publish all of this?
“Because of the danger in reporting inside Syria, it was not possible to confirm the identity or political affiliation of the victim. Nor are we certain about the motivation of his killers. One eyewitness who lives in the area and was contacted by TIME a week after the beheadings said that the executioners were from ISIS, an Al-Qaeda franchise operating in Syria and Iraq.” Like the NY Times front page of the mass executions by rebels, here again horrific images are published without specific knowledge. The Times finds out its front page image is over a year old and the correction is buried, not front page news. I feel manipulated. I am troubled by this trend by the big NEWS organizations of getting the “shots”, being the first, etc. This has always been the case with photojournalism but the landscape is different now with social media and everything being filmed or photographed and then being circulated without the facts or without verifiable facts.
Looking at the NY Times image again, I see that we cannot identify those being shot (thankfully) but we can clearly see the shooters. Has this image been their death sentence? Because I haven’t looked at the rest of the Time images, I don’t know whether or not, we can see the faces of the executioners.
Barbie Zelizer writes about ‘About to Die’ Images. From an interview in Slate: ”We’re squeamish because news pictures of the dead and dying are of real people and real events. If a news image works, it penetrates, lingers, forces our attention to the events involving death that it depicts. If a news image works, it doesn’t disappear when we cast aside the newspaper, dim the TV or turn off the Internet. That may be more intrusion than most people are willing to allow.”
These images from Syria haunt me. But are they really news images? What is the news? The rebels are bad too? Many Syrians are barbaric? That the war is horrific? Many questions, no easy answers.
I also have been following Watching Syria’s War at the Times but interestingly, I had trouble finding this section – no link from the Crisis in Syria section. If that front page photo of the mass execution had been in these sections, the politics would have been much different since it would be in the context of the difficulty of reporting in Syria and not being able to always know what is going on.
Powerful story and images – posting so I remember it.
“The photographs really didn’t have any of the effect that I had hoped they would,” said Mr. Haviv, who was put on a death list by Arkan. “I was hoping to prevent the war. And of course, there was no reaction. The war started, 100,000 to 200,000 people were killed on all sides and several million more became refugees – which led to the war in Kosovo.”
While the images did not stop the Bosnian ethnic cleansing, his photos have had another life: as evidence used by investigators and prosecutors
MARCH 18, 2013 By Heather Murphy, NY Times
Amateur video has been pivotal to the way the conflict in Syria is understood.
NY Times video that raises good questions about what do without media.
Interesting articles about the 2013 World Press Photo Contest winners – very similar to questions I had upon seeing the winning image above.
Photojournalism And Post-Processing: Should Contest Images Be The Actual Published Picture? | NPPA.
DURHAM, NC February 20, 2013 – In the days following the announcement of the World Press Photo of the Year theres been quite a discussion going on in cyberspace about post-processing of news images, and how far is too far given the ethics of reportage and todays digital photography.
Another article on Peta Pixel:Why Do Photo Contest Winners Look Like Movie Posters?
Interesting and touching account from the photograph. Don’t know why it struck me as I read this, who brilliantly decided to call flash cards for cameras – “memory cards?” Flash memory dates back to mid 1980s but can’t find citation for who came up with name.
You tube warns us. The New York Times tells us the next photo will be upsetting or of a dead child. Interestingly, they don’t give us the option to skip the image and in other parts of the website the same image appears with no warning. And you are not warned when you look at the paper. Why warn us? And the ones with the warning are not always the most upsetting ones. When does publishing a photo re-inflict the pain?
There has been a lot written about the NY Post publishing the photo of the man about to be hit by the subway train. Slate wrote about it and while they questioned if the Post should have published it, they re-published it quite large with no remark on their decision to do so. Reminds me of the publication and re-publication of the Abu Ghraib photos.
Below are more links looking at what to photograph, what to publish, life/death, how photographs of atrocity affect both photographer and audience. Most interesting is reading words by the photojournalists themselves in the Syria and Afghanistan pieces in Time magazine. It it is hearing from witnesses.
Syria’s Agony: The Photographs That Moved Them Most.
TIME asked 28 photojournalists to reflect on their work from the conflict over the last year. “This collection of testimonies is the third in a series by TIME documenting iconic images of conflict.” The first two “9/11: The Photographs That Moved Them Most” and “Afghanistan: The Photographs That Moved Them Most”. It is hard to call the 9/11 testimonies since it is mostly by curators and editors not witnesses.
Inspired (again) by Nicholas Kristoff article = this one about Ryan Boyette and his citizen journalism project earsandeysnuba.org. It hasn’t launched yet but looking around led me to other witness projects.
Satellite Sentinel Project: George Clooney initiated the Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) while on an October 2010 trip to Southern Sudan with Enough Project Co-founder John Prendergast. SSP combines satellite imagery analysis and field reports with Google’s Map Maker technology to deter the resumption of war between North and South Sudan. The project provides an early warning system to deter full-scale civil war between Northern and Southern Sudan and to promote greater accountability for mass atrocities by focusing world attention and generating rapid responses on human rights and human security concerns.
I’ll be adding more to this.
Looking at the coverage of Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik’s deaths in Syria.
Ghastly Images Flow from Shattered Syrian City [NY Times] Photo of activist in Homs, Syria, pointing to the bodies of the journalists Rémi Ochlik and Marie Colvin printed very small with no ability to enlarge.
Syrian Activist Rami-al-Sayed YouTube Channel