Images of Injustice

With photographs by 24 artists from all over the world, “Anthropographia 2010: Human Rights & Photography” is more diverse than any other exhibition at the New York Photo Festival (which took place from May 12-16), which makes the material all the more difficult to get one’s hands around. We’ve all read about what people everywhere from Kabul to Kashmir go through (there’s more of the Middle East here than anything else), but seeing pictures of corpses hauled away on gurneys and whole families living in the middle of dirt roads make everything they have to deal with more engrossing, and makes the rhythms of their everyday lives seem more bleak.

The paradox is that seeing the world through somebody else’s eyes actually makes their suffering more personal.

Of course, we don’t even have to know who we’re looking at to feel what kind of pain they’re being subjected to. Among the best images here are from Walter Astrada’s “Rape Weapon of War,” straight from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. As artillery shells litter the road in the foreground, there’s a parade of civilians taking care of various chores in the background.

You have to wonder how many times they find themselves in the line of fire.

The faces of the civilians are indistinct, though, giving the situation a sad kind of privacy. It’s a tone that’s felt in sharper images also, like Mariella Furrer’s “Child Sexual Abuse,” which focuses on children in South Africa who have been subjected to mental and physical scarring. One particularly violent image is of a new wound that’s healing with the stitches still inside.

If there’s anything that’s holding some of these artists back, it’s not knowing how to keep up with a worthy subject. Natan Dvir has his heart in the right place with “Shelter,” a project on African refugees in Israel, but everything in the pictures is so undistinguished that the overall message is lost in translation.

Still, most of the art that’s here is very insightful, so much so that some of it actually goes beyond the crux of the show. Alexandre Matthieu’s “Iraqi Refugees” features people holding onto different mementos that represent some of the things they’ve had to endure – one, who holds up a T-shirt with a bloodstain on it, told the artist that he was attacked by his neighbor, and that he’s holding onto it as evidence for whenever the trial takes place.

Although he looks as if he’s prepared to wait a long time, the fact that he’s holding onto that T-shirt at all suggests that, even in the darkest corners of the world, there’s still some hope for justice.

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About David Guzman 207 Articles
I just received my degree in journalism at Brooklyn College, where I served as the arts editor for one of the campus newspapers, the Kingsman. When it comes to the arts, I’ve managed to cover a variety of subjects, including music, films, books and art exhibitions. I’ve reviewed everything from “Slumdog Millionaire” (which was a good film) to “Coraline,” (which wasn’t) and I’ve also interviewed legendary film critic Leonard Maltin.

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