Seeing Eye to Eye
Because it’s the product of three independent parties—photographer, camera, subject—the photograph cannot be owned. indeed, it can affect us in ways the photographer might never have foreseen or desired.
William T. Vollmann
Images in Spite of All:
Four Photographs from Auschwitz
by Georges Didi-Huberman
translation by Shane B. Lillis
$35.00 List Price
How should we parse a documentary image that directly or indirectly portrays evil, injustice, anguish? What rights and duties, if any, does our understanding engender?
I begin with Paul Garson’s Album of the Damned: Snapshots from the Third Reich. The majority of the photographs were composed, we are informed, by Wehrmacht soldiers who were amateur photographers. How could such a compilation fail to fascinate? Unfortunately, while Garson the compiler deserves my gratitude, Garson the commentator is extraordinarily unequal to his subject. At the zenith of his acumen, he compares one benign-looking German soldier to Sergeant Schultz of the television show Hogan’s Heroes. To a photograph of two soldiers carrying the upside-down carcass of a wolf, he affixes the caption “Werewolf,” which affords an excuse to ramble
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