Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Randa Mirza

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.


MLC said...

What an interesting post -- I'll have to come back and follow the photo links when I have more time.

For now I will suggest a poem I really like it's called

"A Brief For The Defense" by Jack Gilbert he articulates in a beautiful way why we must live joyfully despite the sorrow of the world that is ever present.


MLC said...

I just realized the poem is hard to find online (here it is...)

“A Brief for the Defense” – Jack Gilbert

Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving
somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our lives because that’s what God wants.
Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not
be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not
be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women
at the fountain are laughing together between
the suffering they have known and the awfulness
in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody
in the village is very sick. There is laughter
every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta,
and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.
If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,
we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.
We must admit there will be music despite everything.
We stand at the prow again of a small ship
Anchored late at night in the tiny port
looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront
is three shuttered caf├ęs and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat
comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth
all the years of sorrow that are to come.

glued blue glass said...

Thanks for sharing that with me, janet. It is so true. It is the reason why I find myself devoting less time to keeping track of injustices and more on making art, writing, and enjoying nature. I was a bit obsessed for a number of years on working towards social justice and I am still now but now if I have to pick between volunteering for something at our local peace and justice center or being creative at home, I generally pick being creative. It's a shift of focus for this 40th decade that I am now in.

glued blue glass said...

I need to add that I give myself the opportunity to be creative because I feel that in long run somehow it will make the world a better place. The part of the poem that bothers me is the idea that injustice is inevitable because I don't think it is. If we can make space shuttles, we can figure out how to make sure everyone is fed and not being killed by war and that the earth doesn't disappear.

troro - the artists behind said...

Quite disturbing photos... but very beautifully executed.
Never heard of the photographer,so thanks for sharing.

glued blue glass said...

Glad to introduce you to her troro. I like all the recipes on your blog. I can't wait to get settled into my new place so that I can start making some of them! Lebanese food is my favorite.

pomegranate queen said...

"a floating feeling of total incapacity!"

I must go back and read Susan Sontag again. Thank you for this post. these images are so disturbing and they hit deep. made me think about my own relationship to "home" and my distance from the harsh realities of everyday life there. The privilege of distance. Something to think about. And definitely something to write about.

hope you're well.
much love.

glued blue glass said...

The privilege of distance at least gives us the advantage of being in a position to try and change the policies of "first world" war machines. Canada is not nearly as bad as the US in that respect. But activism too becomes overwhelming and the results slow.
Much love to you too