all there is, seen and unseen
February 9, 2019 12:44 PM   Subscribe

When the camera was a weapon of imperialism (and when it still is).

Teju Cole's last On Photography column for the NYT.

(My personal favorite: Object Lesson.)
posted by praemunire (6 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
This is a beautiful and thought-provoking essay. Thank you for posting it.
posted by emjaybee at 10:30 PM on February 9


Every picture of suffering should elicit a question stronger than “Why is this happening?” The question should be “Why have I allowed this to happen?”

Tough pictures, but thanks for this, amazing art and articles!
posted by haemanu at 11:37 PM on February 9 [1 favorite]


Many Native Americans in the late 19th century believed the camera could steal your soul, and avoided photographs for that reason.
posted by floam at 5:05 AM on February 10


"Even when [photography] appears to go against the state, it will only do so selectively, quaintly, beautifully, piteously, in terms that do not question the right of the state to assert power."
posted by ITheCosmos at 5:38 AM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Counterpoint:

King Leopold's Soliloquy: A Defense of His Congo Rule
By Mark Twain
The kodak has been a sore calamity to us. The most powerful enemy that has confronted us, indeed. In the early years we had no trouble in getting the press to "expose" the tales of the mutilations as slanders, lies, inventions of busy-body American missionaries and exasperated foreigners who found the "open door" of the Berlin-Congo charter closed against them when they innocently went out there to trade; and by the press's help we got the Christian nations everywhere to turn an irritated and unbelieving ear to those tales and say hard things about the tellers of them. Yes, all things went harmoniously and pleasantly in those good days, and I was looked up to as the benefactor of a down-trodden and friendless people. Then all of a sudden came the crash! That is to say, the incorruptible kodak -- and all the harmony went to hell! The only witness I have encountered in my long experience that I couldn't bribe. Every Yankee missionary and every interrupted trader sent home and got one; and now -- oh, well, the pictures get sneaked around everywhere, in spite of all we can do to ferret them out and suppress them. Ten thousand pulpits and ten thousand presses are saying the good word for me all the time and placidly and convincingly denying the mutilations. Then that trivial little kodak, that a child can carry in its pocket, gets up, uttering never a word, and knocks them dumb!
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:46 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


praemunire, thanks for posting this link - I don't know whether I would have come across this piece otherwise, and I'm glad I read it!
posted by brainwane at 6:57 AM on February 11


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