"The immensity of this crime is beyond our imagination and is only surpassed by the unbelievable indifference of the West"
I chose photographer giles peress's photo series "Silence." This series aimed to expose the inhumane conditions of Rwands and the failure of the U.S to step in and do something. They decided to help in the holocaust when our allies got involved, but every 1st world country turned their back on the Genocide happening in Africa. Race is a common divider when it comes to the lengths people are willing to go to give a hand. When the hurricane hit Puerto Rico, there was not nearly as much as a relief effort as when it hit Katrina. On top of that, the relief efforts in the black areas of New Orleans were neglected in the relief efforts. Resulting in a disproportionate amount of chaos and suffering in minoritized communities. This is just one of many examples of race based neglect, systematic oppressions, and the functions of hegemony in our society. It is important for project's like Peresse's to be done to expose the conditions that we willingly let continue while watching from afar. In black and white images, Peresse is able to do just that.
Here Peresse captures a pile of the weapon of choice, equipped by the Hutus to dismember the Tutsi. They would refer to them as "cockroaches" in order to dehumanize them and incentivize their murder. The photographer utilized specular (reflected light) and dark shadow contrast to create a dramatic images that stands out to the viewer. He also uses a tight crop that, much like David Seymour, inspires you to image what lays outside of the frame.
Here is an image of one of the disfigured victims who we can assume is Tusti, as they were the persecuted demographic. Here we see innocent eyes that seam to be the only part of the face left relatively in tact. They shine with an intensity as their head rests almost impatiently on their head. It's almost as if their posture personifies the feeling of delayed justice. And as MLK said, "justice delayed is justice denied." However the Tusti does not look defeated, they look if anything as if they must move forward. This direct eye contact with the camera clearly acknowledges the presence of a photographer but more importantly gives the viewer the feeling of being stared down. Giving us the responsibility to respond empathetically and feel part of the grief this person must have went through in order to end up on the other side of the image looking as they do.
Here the photographer takes a typical picture of the tide breaking at the shore, yet this tide isn't met with the expected sand. It instead clashes with a pile of what appears to be bones from afar. Peress was able to capture this image at the very moment the wave broke making dramatic splashes and bones the main focus of the image. However, when you look even closer, you see that the waves are also composed of face down, naked bodies. This image works especially well in black and white because there is minimal contrast between the water logged, black bodies and the crashing white waves. This low contrast obscures the reality of the image until we look even closer. It's almost a metaphor. The sea is supposed to be something we run to, we rush to, in order to embrace its medicinal chaos. We seek freedom and realignment in its immense power to level our souls, for it is the bay that marks the horizon. Yet the birds eye view of the water shows nothing but chaos, death, and dismemberment. When we broaden our perspective to see the ocean as a whole and not just from the beach on which we stand, we may expect to see it shine as blue and bold as our American reality. But when we take a step back to look down at our world, the sunset on the horizon looks more like blood. The question becomes: do we stand by the reddening shore and watch as the sun bleeds out of the sky day by day, or do we save the drowning bodies? America chooses to watch. And the bodies continue to drown in rising water until one day, we won’t be able to find the beauty in our sunset, for it will be drained of red and rendered obsolete.