This piece is too heavily indebted to Susan Sontag, but then it’s almost impossible when you write about photography and atrocity not to end up parroting Sontag. No matter how far you think you’ve moved your argument away from the lucid clarity of Sontag’s observations, you end up right back … Continue Reading Images of Dying and Dead Children
I think the damage done by celebrity photography is much more grave than the mere pollution of magazines, newspapers and other media that favor this form of entertainment. Fetishizing the celebrity class overemphasizes the role meritocracy plays in creating and sustaining wealth and privilege. The traces of genuine humanity, humility … Continue Reading Annie Leibovitz’s “Pilgrimage”
I invested in a hefty collection of Ginsberg’s poetry before heading off to the National Gallery of Art exhibition devoted to his photography. I knew the famous poems, “Howl,” “Wichita Vortex Sutra,” “Kaddish,” from anthologies and other sources, but I hadn’t spent sustained time with Ginsberg’s writing. Now I wish … Continue Reading Allen Ginsberg at the National Gallery
I wrote a quick piece about a striking image that came out of Sunday’s health care reform vote. Around noon, Nancy Pelosi and top Democratic leaders walked from the Cannon Office Building to the House, with Pelosi carrying a rather over sized gavel. It was an impromptu gesture, by all … Continue Reading Nancy and the Gavel
My story on the images coming out of Haiti led to an invitation to discuss news coverage of the catastrophe on The Takeaway, a morning radio news and call-in program based in New York. I was joined by Natalie Hopkinson, who wrote a sharp piece on the meaning and use … Continue Reading Haiti and the Media
Since the war in Iraq began, I’ve been looking at and writing about media images of death and destruction. The images coming out of Haiti strike me as more graphic than most newspapers have been willing to print in the past decade. I ponder why in today’s Washington Post.
I think this show is better than it might seem on superficial first glance. Richard Ross’s photographs of institutional spaces include interrogation rooms, prisons and execution chambers. But also high-school corridors, hotel phone booths and religious spaces. If you take these connections too seriously, it seems like Ross is making silly, agit-prop … Continue Reading The Architecture of Authority