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WHAT WOULD SONTAG SAY? Mark Sealy

Thinking Through and APPLYING FOR GRANTS

Adapted from Photography: Race, Rights and Representation

Published By Lawrence Wishart March 2022

Photography is omnipresent, sensorial, multidirectional, a layered, fluid, sonic creative process that permeates and resonates across our world. The radicality of recognising the sensory or disruptive jazz-like connection with photography frees the viewer from the confines of a purely Eurocentric aesthetic need to contain, frame, chart, collect and own all of the meanings a graphic might produce both aesthetically and legally. Instead, working towards a far more improvised and receptive thought process through photography opens space for sensing, feeling and perceiving the task a photograph generates across different individual, temporal and cultural experiences. Here repressed knowledge(s) is free and alive, shared and embraced, and there is nothing history as precisely what has passed is active around in today’s, moulding and reworking our sense of humanity, reminding us of the work we need to embrace and produce acts of restorative de-colonial care as a core function of our day to day life. Otherwise, as Baldwin reminds us, ultimately, it’s the risk of universal extinction hanging total the planet today that changes, totally and forever, the type of realityWe humans now have the energy to exterminate ourselves; this appears to be the entire amount of our achievement,(1) this is actually the situation we need to address, reverse and undo with urgency until all of the ghosts trapped in the violence of history have already been seen, recognised and heard.

When repressed knowledge is allowed a voice, expressed, and embraced, it critically functions to greatly help us recognize that nothing previously has ended and that point and history, when considered through photography, can and you will be reworked. Photography, essentially, is our judgement, our jury, and we stand on trial before its all-seeing eye, trapped, framed, and caught awaiting times sentence.

Photographs remind us our histories, traumatic or pleasurable memories and events stay deep within the wells of our souls, where they await different triggers release a them, enabling that which was locked away or looked from to surface goosebumps like back to our consciousness. Memories (witnessed moments) buried within photographs work as internal notes, some pleasant, many unpleasant whether we have been present or not, photographs always echo. Photographs then are hot molecules like agitators at the job in the cool dark corners of our minds. Whenever we are caught off guard by the task an image does on our interior selves, it could be overwhelming, even though not immediate, because images linger and loaf around like thieves in the night time. Overexposure to the violence of a graphic in this regard isn’t a possibility. This is a northern hemispheric and colonising privilege. Ignoring the violence of a graphic only makes its capacity to haunt more intense.

Time shows us that photographs can signpost the escape routes from essentialising Western visual regimes. Different eyes prioritise different points of reference, and in a radical curatorial pluriverse, a photographs meanings should trans-mutate and shift with time; here, they operate as historical tricksters, awkward floating signifiers that steer clear of the essentialising gaze.

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