PHOTOGRAPHY IS NAKED. This is what this latest issue of ZUM proclaims, as the image is stripped naked, turned inside out, looked at and debated in detail.
Known as a photographer who turned photography into a tool for political activism, Claudia Andujar is celebrated here with two rarely seen photo series. In the first, a woman assumes a metaphysical aura by using a technique of superimposing diapositives and filters. In the second, the collective subject is offset against the sky in Direita Street, São Paulo.
To what extent what we see is independent from what we believe? In an exclusive interview, documentarist Errol Morris narrates his investigative obsession, clarifying controversies in the history of photography and journalism. Errol talks about the documentary quality of photography. What we see is not what we actually think we see. If not, let’s see.
News and blowing the whistle, technology and journalism often lead to a deadlock as presented in these two poignant essays. The author of the image on the front cover of this issue, Balazs Gardi, is a member of the Basetrack project, which uses mobile phones with apps to document a US battalion stationed in Afghanistan, providing the soldiers the chance to share information. In Ghana, South African Pieter Hugo shows the rather dark and obscure nature of the consumer world of electronics in a place where computers (such as the one I am writing with) are dispatched by the first world on their last lease on life. Also tragic and – I reluctantly admit – beautiful are these scenes of misfortune portrayed by the Mexican Enrique Metinides. With a magnificent grasp of drama, the photographer raises the bar in terms of crime reportage.
The idea that photography can be immediately understood is challenged in a number of features in this issue. German Thomas Demand puts on paper scenes from other photographs, in a game that hides and exposes the starting point. American Robert Smithson transforms his walking around the Hotel Palenque into a seminal lecture on art and architecture. Among the team of pilgrim photographers, the magazine presents the hotels photographed by João Castilho and a photo-journey made by Mauro Restiffe, at the invitation of ZUM, through the Luz neighbourhood in São Paulo, which has already dissipated the echoes of its troubled days.
Few photographers are capable of showing the real world and, at the same time, inventing a new reality. This is what William Eggleston achieved by using color photography while traveling through the South of the US. He presents here diapositives that were kept for nearly 40 years. If Eggleston’s delicate irony makes you smile, the essayist Terry Castle will make you laugh. A search for the punctum in his collection of anonymous photographs is proof that humor and perspicacity go hand in hand.
Errol Morris provides one of the most resonant phrases in this issue: “False ideas adhere to photographs like flies to flypaper”. Turn the page, help to free the flies and return them to their proper place.