Anti photo ournal ism1.4 8.6.2011Keizersgracht 609 1017 DS Amsterdam +31 20 5516500 www.foam.org
Antiphotojournalismby Thomas Keenan and Carles Guerra The rule of thumb for this sort of anti-photojournalism: no flash, no telephoto zoom lens, no gas mask, no auto-focus, no press pass and no pressure to grab at all costs the one defining image of dramatic violence. Allan Sekula, Waiting for Tear Gas, 1999
Photojournalism is in the midst of a remarkable, and singularly unexpected, renaissance. New practices, strategies, viewpoints, techniques, and agents have radically transformed the institutions and the fundamental concepts of the field. While it has become fashionable to lament the death of photojournalism, actual events suggest that something quite different is taking place. New ways of reporting the news, new imaginations of what the news might be, have challenged the hegemonic figure of the photojournalist at its core and given birth to the most interesting ideas. An upheaval has occurred at once within the field the exhaustion of an old paradigm and its displacement by new ones and from without,
where different images, and different kinds of images, have ruined the absolute authority of the old ways. These critical approaches at once ethical, political, social, aesthetic, theoretical, even epistemological which we call, following Allan Sekula, antiphotojournalism, themselves have a history and a multiplicity of forms, which is what we present here. Classically, photojournalism has been governed by a number of tropes: the heroic figure of the photo grapher, the economy of access to the event, the iconic image, the value of the real and its faithful representation in the picture, the mission of re porting the truth and conveying it to a faraway public, and often a commitment to a sort of advo cacy or at least a bearing witness to terrible events.
Antiphotojournalism names a systematic critique of these clichs, and a complex set of counter proposals. It names a profound and passionate fidelity to the image, too, an image unleashed from the demands of this tradition and freed to ask other questions, make other claims, tell other stories. Sometimes the gesture is reflective, selfreflective what are we photographers doing here, what do we assume, how do we work, what do we expect and what is expected of us? Sometimes the desire is evidentiary not in the old sense of simply
offering the evidence of images to an assumedly homogenous public opinion, but in much more precise way: photographs have become evidence in war crimes tribunals. Sometimes the innovation is technological, whether it involves working with the hitech resources of advanced satellite imagery or the lowtech crowdsourcing of parti cipatory protest imaging. Sometimes the practices are archival, even bordering on the fetishistic. And sometimes the question is simply whether we even need images at all.
Gilles PeressGilles Peress once famously described a certain forensic turn, away from what he called photojournalism and towards the matteroffact: I work much more like a forensic photographer in a certain way, collecting evidence. Ive started to take more still lives, like a police photographer, collecting evidence as a witness. Ive started to borrow a different strategy than that of the classic photojournalist. The work is much more factual and much less about good photography. Im gathering evidence for history, so that we remember. This commitment to evidence took a strange turn itself when Peress, working with human rights investigators and other journalists, entered Kosovo in 1999. Having documented what he later called the exile and return of refugees at the border crossing of Morina, Peress and others focused on the village of Cuska, a few kilometers east of Pec, where eyewitnesses confirmed earlier reports that the village had been destroyed and fortyone men executed in May. In addition to the testimonies of survivors and of the ruins them selves, Peress and researcher Fred Abrahams found something else remarkable: photographs of the possible perpetrators of the attack, taken by the paramilitaries themselves. These self portraits became central to the investigation, and helped Peress, Abrahams, and Eric Stover create a picture of the terrible crimes committed in the village, along with portraits of some of the
individuals who appear to have committed them. The results are gathered in a book, A Village Destroyed: May 14, 1999 (U. California Press, 2002). Since then, what Peress calls the long arm of justice has gradually reached out to find and prosecute many of those accused in the Cuska massacre. Eleven men accused in the destruction of Cuska have now been arrested. A series of emails from Abrahams tracks the cases.Gilles Peress (France,1946) began working as a photo grapher in 1970. He joined Magnum Photos in 1972, and has twice served as its President. He has covered the conflicts in Northern Ireland, the former Yugoslavia, and the Great Lakes region of Africa extensively. He has published a number of books, beginning with his reportage from the Iranian Revolution in 1979, Telex Iran (Aperture 1984).
Phil CollinsPhil Collins sometimes seems more akin to a foreign correspondent than a traditional artist. how to make a refugee is a videotape of a press conference, just across the border from Kosovo in Macedonia, in which two Kosovar refugee families are presented to the international media covering the 1999 NATO air campaign and the results of the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo. From time to time, the boy at the centre of attention, and the family, answer questions as they respond to the instructions of a photographer and his assistant. Collins intervention
is minimal; he merely records the mise-en-scne of the event. His camera, alert to the presence and the effects of all the other cameras, discovers not simply how a media event comes into being but nothing less than the production of its subject, the refugee, as well. In later works he has explored the margins of daily life for young people in conflict zones, often by creating unusual popcultural situations, from screen tests in Baghdad in 2002 to a dance marathon in Ramallah in 2004 to karaoke contests in Turkey, Columbia and Indonesia.Phil Collins (England, 1970) lives and works in Berlin, and was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2006.
desire to witness, we will lose the sense of what has happened. These photographs show us how that recording comes about.Paul Lowe (England, 1963) lives and works in London and Sarajevo. His work has been recognized by many awards, including multiple World Press Photo awards. He directs the MA in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at the London College of Communication.
Kadir van LohuizenDiamond Matters is an exhaustive work of research into the diamond industry in 20045. It spans nine countries (Angola, Sierra Leone, DR Congo, Belgium, India, France, Holland, United Kingdom), and shows the journey of a diamond from mines in Africa to consumers in the western world. Van Lohuizen aspires to picture the whole industry, to show the whole process, by which he means the financing, working conditions, dealers, and those who really profit from the industry. After all, diamonds are not just any commodity. Their journey begins in countries whose wars are financed by the illegal export of raw diamonds, and ends in a zone of opulence that might seem impossibly removed from those origins but is now indelibly marked by them. From the brutality of the mines themselves, through the operations of traders and craftspeople in Africa, Asia, and Europe, and finally to the shops and showrooms of Europe, the diamond constructs an elaborate network of violence, desire, and money. And diamonds are not the only vehicles travelling on those pathways. Diamond Matters suggests, and indeed exemplifies, nothing less than an analogy between diamonds and photographs, which are themselves born of others misery and transported through an elaborate and often invisible global economy of exchange to consumers in distant destinations.Kadir van Lohuizen (The Netherlands, 1963) has won a number of prizes for his reporting, including two World Press Photo awards. He is a member of Noor Images, and the author of several books.
Paul LowePaul Lowe worked as a frontline photojournalist in the 1980s and 1990s, from Grozny to Cape Town. His book, Bosnians (Saqi, 2005), documenting ten years of the wartime and postwar situation in Bosnia, reflected on his investment at once personal, ethical, and visual in the country and its experiences. While reporting from Bosnia, Lowe began to study not only the events of the conflict and their protagonists, but the construction itself of the war and its photographic presentation. He wrote at the time: Why photograph war? I am continually asked why go there, what makes you want to put yourself at risk, arent you some kind of adrenalin junkie? But I dont consider myself a war photographer, rather a photographer of extreme situations, of ordinary people in extra ordinary circumstances. In this series of photo graphs, which begin at the scene of a massacre in Ahmii in 1993, Lowe describes the contours and characters of a war in which images and their production played a major role in shaping reality. He hesitated over the absurdity of, as he wrote, waiting, along with other journalists, TV crews, and photographers, to go and see a massacre, or the tragedy of fighting to get pictures of suffering children. He decides instead to turn his camera toward the conditions of appearance of those pictures rather than simply taking them himself. Still, he says later, he remains convinced that without journalists and photographers who are motivated by a desire to know and to find out by a
Above: Diamond Matters, 2005 Kadir van Lohuizen, courtesy of Noor Images,