It seems that I am perpetually playing catch up. I have been wanting to share Randa Mirza's photography for over a month now. The two black and whites were taken from Pigeon Rock which is an enormous rock off the coast of Beirut. The rocks on it and around the Beirut coastline are popular with fishermen, divers and swimmers. In terms of image, I love how much the men look like birds and this fact contrasts so nicely with what else I know about this area. I may have missed it, but I have never seen a woman fish, dive, or swim from these rocks. Even Randa Mirza says that it is through photography that she as a woman is able to share in this experience. The photos also bring class to the forefront. Most of those that can afford it go to the many beach clubs to swim instead of these dirty dangerous rocks. And, I have made a point to provide links on the photos so just click on them if you want to see the rest of the series.
The two color photographs from the series "Parallel Universes" make me laugh in a sick kind of way. She has superimposed tourist poses onto images of war.
In explaining the photos, the artist quotes Susan Sontag's Regarding the Pain of Others:
We view the horrors that take place throughout the world on a daily basis and our knowledge of what is happening in neighboring countries makes us responsible for our ignorance, our passivity and our indifference. And yet, our ultimate response is a floating feeling of total incapacity!
How can we live in a world where daily disasters are continuously broadcast? What responsibility do we bear for the availability of such knowledge? Do we enjoy observing the 'pain of others' from a position removed in time and space? What is being communicated and what is not being transmitted? Are armed conflicts a new source of entertainment? Why and how do the media participate in this paradox? And what is so exotic about war, anyway?
What I love most about these photos is that we consumers of images look and we see ourselves looking. It makes us have to really think about why we are looking, how we are looking , and what we are going to do about it. Because, as far as I am concerned we are all responsible.
I had been wondering, "What if?" What if we stopped watching and consuming these atrocities? What if there was no longer an audience for them would they cease to exist? I think about how much of the atrocities in the world we, and specifically I, pass over such as Darfur and Georgia to name only two. I realize that not showing these images and not letting the larger global community know about what is happening is not an option. I was seeking easy solutions to complicated situations. I too am overwhelmed and these photos remind me of this.