Thursday, August 21, 2008

Images and Politics

Let's talk about something different today.

How about photography and politics?

The photographs above may be seen as showing my political leanings... to a certain extent. One can see politics in the energetic stance of the young people in the first photograph, participating in a demonstration to protest the bombing of the Atocha train station in Madrid, on March 2004. I was in Barcelona when this occurred, and saw the entire country grind to a halt... with indignation, stupor and disbelief. While I was in the streets, decided to photograph the demonstration against the terrorist attack, I was feeling like a journalist and wanted to capture people doing what these young students are doing here: showing their rejection to terrorists tactics. However, with time, I've come to like this image because I would have liked to be there, standing along with them. Instead, I was on my knees, with my M6TTL loaded with Ektachrome ISO 400, trying to get as much as possible with my Hexanon 35/f2.

Now, I understand it better.

Then, there's the perennial protesters in Chicago, the ones that have been on strike for the last five years, parading in front of a well-known hotel south of Congress (on Michigan Ave). They are tired, their protest has turned into a routine, it seems to have lost its zest, they appear to be there out of habit. The hotel administration, however, won't relent or listen to them. Now, they are a fixture of the landscape, fodder for tourist pictures that will show abroad that America ain't the stuff dreams are made of.

And, speaking of the making of things, this photograph was taken with my M4-2, the same lens used for the photo above, and black-and-white film.

Finally, our local protesters. Ever since the current administration announced its intentions to go to war in Iraq, these people began protesting against it. They already were known as vocal demonstrators (in a subdued, Midwestern way) for their weekly stands in front of the DeKalb memorial monument every Friday, but with the war and its developments, they have grown... unlike their counterparts. Their ideological opponents stand next to a traffic light, across the street, and waive a flag while calling the protesters names. Usually it's a middle-aged and pudgy couple, sometimes accompanied by a thin girl with braces. At times, it's only the man. He bellows and screams and, frankly, is so scary I cannot muster the guts to photograph him.

BTW, I used my M6TTL, Hexanon and T-Max ISO 100 for this photograph, which was later incorporated in the archives of the city of DeKalb in 2006, as part of the DeKalb Streetscapes Project. In short, the image no longer belongs to me, but to the city. They were generous enough to give me copies, though...

All these events and circumstances make me wonder why and how did this country become so polarized... but while I may not have the power to question it or the guts to participate in the debate, I do what I can do better: photograph these actions so that they document the national mood for the days to come.

Now, given the way the powers in office have trampled over basic reason and common sense, will the eyes of the future bother to learn from the mistakes of the past? Probably not, because our current leaders haven't done it either.

Bleak future, indeed...

Oh, well, there are other, more immediate things to worry about, and we'll get back to them later. So long!

No comments: