Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Lady Liberty?

Photo by Sebastiao Salgado

This photograph struck me this week. The attitude of the photograph impresses me. As I stated last week, Salgado's art gives face to the suffering and the weak. This photograph shows three faces. Each unique in the shape that separates the human figure. The contrast between Lady Liberty, the world-recognized symbol of freedom and equality, and the two young men expresses great juxtaposition. Symbolism vs. Realism Symbols express one thing, but reality shows you something completely opposite. The two young men are humans, with all the characteristics that humans, in nature, possess. They physically can do what they want, when they want. Lady Liberty, a statue, according to the physical laws of the universe, does not express the same characteristics of freedom and life. With two separate facts, we look at the photograph, and what do we see? I see freedom opening her doors to all, for all are equal, created in the image of God, and have the inalienable rights of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
Salgado, here, photographs the event, just like we see in the newspapers and magazines He does not photograph personality or character of the people. He can't do it. A good photographer can give you a taste of what someone is experiencing; we grow emotionally attached not by their character but by their circumstances. For example, in Haiti right now. We do not know the people, but we can only imagine through photographs that we have seen the devestating effects the earthquake has had on those people. Salgado can only give the viewer what he can show through the camera, and what he can show through the camera is not personality or character, but faces. He can show us their faces as they respond to the events occurring in the place they call home (Clark 24). The moment at which the shutter closes and captures the light of these shapes is the moment that time is allowed to freeze. The skillful Salgado freezes time in the perfect moments that allows us a glimpse into the intimacy of their lives, but it is only according to our own interpretation. It's not to say that he does not manipulate the way we think. It's just the skill of a great photographer.

Works Cited

Clark, T.J., Sebastiao Salgado, et. al. "Migrations: The Work of Sebastiao Salgado." UC Berkley: Townsend Center for the Humanities. Web. 20 Jan. 2010.

Salgado, Sebastiao. Photograph. Migrations: Humanity in Transition. Aperture. New York, 2000. 71.

1 comment:

  1. I really like how you brought the realism vs symbolism into this picture. It really ironic how the statue probably has more freedom than these two men. Do you know where this photo was taken and when? It would be very interesting to know the rights these men had under their government at the time of the picture. This statue is such a symbol of freedom to so many people around the world, its a hope for a better world. I think we often dont appreciate her as much as we should. Thanks for the picture