In short

The Warm Festival Opens in Sarajevo

The Warm Festival 2017 begins this Wednesday, June 28, until July 2. The inauguration of the festiva...

Guy Tillim Wins HCB 2017 Prize Sponsored by Hermès

South African photographer Guy Tillim was appointed  winner of the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson ...

Koudelka in Person at Anthology Film Archives

The Anthology Film Archives (New York) welcomes on Monday 26 the Czech photographer Josef Koudelka M...
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Guy Tillim, Union Avenue, Harare, 2016 © Guy Tillim, and Stevenson Gallery
Guy Tillim, Union Avenue, Harare, 2016 © Guy Tillim, and Stevenson Gallery

About Struggles

Last year, with photographers of different ages, nationalities and aesthetics, we explored the subject of Dreams, which can also turn into nightmares. This edition of GETXOPHOTO coincided with the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of Martin Luther King’s renowned speech in Washington on 28 August 1963, and the words I have a dream.

We know what that dream of equality, of the eradication of discrimination and of hope for the future meant and continues to represent for North American society and, moreover, for everyone in the world who yearns for greater justice and equality. It was a dream that was tied to struggle. A struggle for what the Americans called civil rights, human rights. This worldwide fight took the form of demonstrations demanding autonomy or independence, improvements in living conditions, respect for dignity, the end of exploitation and equal opportunities in access to educations. It’s a long and perhaps endless list, because today, too, maybe more than yesterday or in more internationalized, more globalized ways, there continues to be inequality in the world.

In the 20th century, when photography triumphed as historic documentation or as a repository of the memory of circumstances and actions, the imagery of these struggles was forged. The images are not mere documents; they reflect, often through a heroization of the protagonists, the ideologies they are rooted in. It is disturbing to see in images how close is the visual resemblance between a worker in the USSR and a peasant in Mussolini’s Italy, or the proximity of the bodies of miners or workers from the Soviet steelworks to the nudist adulation of German youth during the years of the rise of Nazism. All this visual historiography, which runs through the century of the two devastating world wars, of the camps of the final solution, the ensuing genocides, the collapse of entire sectors of industry, the concentration of the population in the cities and the relative desertification of the countryside, among many other things, was recorded by photography and fundamentally disseminated by the press.

The world has still not improved, but the conditions and modalities of image production have changed. The rapid circulation of pixels on the Internet and the immediacy of the transmission of information, sound and movement have left their mark on the role of photo-journalism, although the sources are often impossible to discern, and their reliability is increasingly shaky. But we are in the era of the image.

And this is the context in which we approach the question of struggles. On one hand, those that take place on the ground—often interrelated— for peace, independence, freedom, health, education, life; and against violence, destructive contamination and humiliation without limit. But then there are the decisions taken by some photographers to join a fight-back or place themselves on the side of those who are in the thick of it, from their homes and in all parts of the world. The geographical origins of photographers are as international as they always were, and their aesthetic proposals are becoming ever more heterogeneous: encompassing strict documentary photography and symbolic staging, colour and black and white, snapshots or pictures that are skilfully lit and deftly composed, employing textual resources, with recognizable mechanisms and producers of meaning… So we are now faced with a panorama of photographic practices that stretch from the use of archives to amateur images, taking in satellite image recovery on the way.

If ,and we in no way claim to be exhaustive here, we evoke current situations, it would be illusory to ignore the millenarian and original reality of struggle. It begins with the instinct for survival, which naturally translates into a fight to death and for the subsistence of species. Mak Remissa illustrates the Cambodian proverb «When the water rises the fish eat the ants; when the water falls the ants eat the fish», taking us splendidly close to that reality. When we observe this situation in the animal world and learn the lesson therein contained, we night expect humankind to do everything in its power to avoid destructive discord and, well, become more sensible than the ants and the fish. Best not  to hold our breath though.

Christian Caujolle

FESTIVAL
Gexto Photo 2014
Until September 28, 2014
Getxo, near Bilbao
Spain 

www.getxophoto.com

See more

Festival
Getxo Photo 2014
Edouard Beau

Both war and peace are generally incomprehensible for both those who live through them and those who observe and illustrate them. Since 2006 a young Frenchman has visited Iraq on a regular basis, starting off in Kurdistan, with the aim of coming to grips with a particular situati...

Festival
Getxo Photo 2014
Gleb Kosorukov

Miners, perhaps more than other workers, form part of the history and mythology of revolutionary and social struggles. Working hard and fighting hard, they embody courage and bravery. Systematically photographing them at the pithead, when they re-emerge into the light, covered in...

Festival
Getxo Photo 2014
Emeric Lhuisset

Representation of conflict and of the combatant; Functional focus on conflict; Media influences and preconceived ideas; Virtual, reality: confusion of genres? These are the categories into which a young man anxious about the state of the world classifies the works that have taken...

Festival
Getxo Photo 2014
Fred Ramos

Evidence, proof, traces; these stained torn garments are all that is left of missing people. Which will, perhaps, allow them to be identified. Choosing to approach the drama of his country, El Salvador –which holds the sorry record for homicides–, in the shape of a st...

Festival
Getxo Photo 2014
Marti Llorens

How and why would one fabricate a visual memory of what one has not directly experienced, in this case, in the Spanish Civil War? Because, by doing so, this event which has been talked of so much in the family and in history books comes true, and because these concocted imag...

Festival
Getxo Photo 2014
Jacques Pugin

How does one photograph war? Certainly not by repeating pictures of corpses, answers the author who decided to re-appropriate images and subject satellite views of burnt villages in Darfur –with at least 300,000 dead between 2003 and 2006– to another treatment, posing...

Festival
Getxo Photo 2014
Nyaba Léon Ouedraogo

It is hell. Hell on earth, today, in Ghana, which in recent years has turned into one of the main destinations for electronic waste from Europe and the United States. In Accra, the capital, a whole illegal business industry revolves around e-waste traffic, which represents an imp...

Festival
Getxo Photo 2014
Manit Sriwanichpoom

In 2001, this artist, who defines himself as an activist, produced a series of photomontages that evoked the memory of the students massacred in 1976, the great numbers of military coups and violence in his country. Using black and white documents taken by photojournalists d...

Festival
Getxo Photo 2014
Boushra Almutawakel

It takes undeniable courage for a Yemeni woman to forcefully assert her fierce opposition to the way in which Muslim fundamentalists make women disappear to vanishing point. This denial, which is shown in different stages, becomes a cruel fable that cuts to the quick with its ref...

Festival
Getxo Photo 2014
David Levinthal

Composing in black and white, he was the first to use toys to convey his imaginary of the First World War. He continued to use them for the Second, even for the subject of the concentration camps, making the most of Polaroid colours in large format. Of course, behind these mises-...

Festival
Getxo Photo 2014
Philip Blenkinsop

He is, above all, a journalist. And essentially a photographer. Which does not mean that he defines himself as a photojournalist. His contributions caused scoops to multiply, through photographs that encompassed the coup d’état in Cambodia in 1997, the fight for surv...

Festival
Getxo Photo 2014
Mikel Bastida

Reality is often more surprising than some fictions that we assume to be exaggerated or excessive. Through documenting, permanently choosing the right distance from the spectacle contemplated and thanks to a subtle palette and some really subtle lighting, the images compel us to ...

Festival
Getxo Photo 2014
Raphaël Dallaporta

The anti-personnel mine, one of the most atrocious death dealing machines around, sophisticated and undetectable, causes thousands of victims every year. Photographed in colour and in the studio, on a black background, with lighting similar to that used for jewellery, they are tr...

Festival
Getxo Photo 2014
Steven Siewert

Although sumo was recently dethroned by baseball and football, it continues to be an extremely popular sport in Japan, especially since it is the oldest and is linked to Shinto. This ritual dimension is to be found both in the rigorous organization of the wrestlers’ working...

Festival
Getxo Photo 2014
Clément Briend & Laure Tixier

One of the evening projections devised by Clément Briend and shown in the streets of Getxo was dedicated to this inventory of prisons made by Laure Tixier. Since 1975, after the publication of ‘Surveiller et punir’ by Michel Foucault, our fe...