Sunday, July 4, 2010

David Goldblatt's Photography, Search for Humanity

Joseph Lelyveld writes in NY Review of Books about photographer David Goldblatt's upcoming exhibit at the Jewish Museum in NY and his pictures from Apartheid-era South Africa.

The photographer, without being in the least soft-hearted, manages to extend that sympathy to Afrikaners, the people in whose name the oppressive system has been decreed. He can identify with their attachment to the land and comes to share it, even as he chronicles the disfigurement of the landscape and the racial injustice the system has wrought.
I always say that it's important to understand people in the full color of their humanity, warts and all, including their propensity for oppression and how valiantly they struggle through hardship. Still, I submit that there are sometimes I just can't walk the walk. I found myself trying not to be indignant at the photographer's search for humanity in the face of an oppressor even as it is a reminder of people's complexity, and thus a history's complexity. We are all human and thus full of trip wires and contradictions. That's at once a good and a bad thing.

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