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How not to photograph the Rohingya genocide in the making…

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Suchitra Vijayan: Was there consent? What do these images tell me, that I already do not know? What do I do with this image, now I have seen a private moment of vulnerability splashed on the pages of The Guardian? Where do we go from here and what are the political possibilities of this image?

Edward Said, introducing Auberach’s book wrote, and I paraphrase here, that each generation has to find the optics to represent their reality. It’s a simple but an almost impossible demand to satisfy. What does it mean to represent the reality occurring before us? Especially one that is birthed by violence? If we use images to tell that story how do we do justice to people’s lived histories without reducing them to clichés or returning to the language, grammar and syntax of photographs taken 10, 25 or even 50 years ago?

… If without the image, the words add up to nothing more than a descriptive banality, then don’t expect the pictures to be any better. Because images, especially these kinds of images cannot exist without politics, or the empire being implicated in its violence. Ergo they cannot survive without words that question and implicate the political.

I have often heard people say this, “don’t tell me, show me”. Nothing has done more damage to writing and creative process than this terrible phrase. When an editor says this, you can be assured that either Columbia Journalism school got to them or they are handcuffed to a narrative form that is reductive and unfamiliar with what it means to think and write about human reality. Sometimes you cannot show, you have to tell; sometimes you have to scream, sometimes words can no longer depict the reality before us. More here.

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