Monday, April 27, 2015

Commemoration and critique -- Tim Hetherington four years on

Memorable for their fleeting dignity and searing panic of private moments in battle, serendipitous snaps of civilians and combatants with poignant acumen, his early photos miraculously wove the social, political and economic threads of a conflict into a single image--a West African Breughel sans folly or satire. This was the young Hetherington: still mystified by the paroxysms of humanity in the throes of war. 

Not a bad start, but embedding in warzones is not hard to do--anyone can become cannon fodder, and journalists have been accessing armies and frontlines for over a century. Yet to the casual observer conflict imagery from Liberia proved little had changed since Conrad's 'heart of darkness'. Tim saw the perverse effects of the 'new savagery': visually exciting but reinforcing our dismissive misanthropy all the same.  
With the award-winning Restrepo, Hetherington's lens came full circle. Too well known to recount here, the film unpacks the mystery of why young men are drawn to the combat experience. It's an attraction shared in degrees by aid workers and war journalists. War is the only opportunity we have in society to love each other unconditionally, to die for each other. 

Instead we get Che Guevara's face on a T-shirt: what greater insult to minority political struggle can there be? 

See the full article over at 3Quarksdaily.

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