We're pleased to continue presenting Exposures: An Aperture Blog, where fine-art photography enthusiasts around the world can interact with some of the most engaged professionals in the field. We welcome your comments.

11 October 2007

"Exposures" Has Moved!

It has been our pleasure to test the concept of an Aperture blog via Blogger this summer season. As the weather cools and the season in photography heats up, we've decided to move affairs over to a more robust location.

Please find the new Exposures at http://exposures.aperture.org. Upcoming features include an interview with Larry Fink, co-curator of the current Aperture exhibition "Lisette Model And Her Successors," as well as notes and clips from "The Passionate Eye II: Conversations Between Collectors, Curators, and Critics," taking place at Aperture on October 14.

This site will remain up for a number of weeks, but all new posts will be made on the new site. We thank you for your understanding, and welcome your comments and suggestions on the new space!

08 October 2007

Richard Ross/John R. MacArthur Lecture, Part 4

The following is the final installment of a conversation between Richard Ross and John R. (Rick) MacArthur, regarding Ross's work and his book Architecture of Authority, published by Aperture this fall.

To read opening remarks made by Diana Edkins of Aperture Foundation, click here.

To read the first installment of the conversation between Ross and MacArthur, click here.

To read the second installment of the conversation between Ross and MacArthur, click

To read the third installment of the conversation between Ross and MacArthur, click

JRM: …I say in the essay that there would be no point in trying to do the Abu Ghraib photos in any other context. As if, in a perfect photographer’s world, Richard… [snuck] back into Abu Ghraib and took photographs of the guys with the hoods on, and in what I call the tableau vivant of the torture victims, with [Army Specialists] Lynndie [England] and Charles [Graner] and their persecutors torturing them, but doing it from an artist’s perspective. Or a photojournalist’s perspective. Because you know the pictures we’ve seen of Abu Ghraib are mostly cellular phone pictures. Right?

RR: Or digital cameras. Small cameras.

JRM: Right. …They’re not set-up shots. They’re not done by professional photographers. But my feeling when I saw his empty spaces was that it’s just as well. You couldn’t reproduce the shock value of those amateur photographs. And just for the hell of it, I wonder if you think if such a thing is reproducible. I mean is that something you’re interested in? Because all the pictures you see, they’re all empty, you rarely see a person. The minute I saw the Abu Ghraib shots, and the Guantánamo shots, my thoughts turned to the amateur shots of Charles and Lynndie torturing the prisoners.

RR: Well, one of the images that isn’t in the book or the exhibition was that same space where Lynndie England was one of those who was torturing. It had almost souvenir value—a perverse souvenir of Iraq. Like going to Minnesota and photographing a men’s stall, which has become one of the big tourist attractions at that airport. [Laughter.] But it couldn’t be reproduced. In other words, in creating these, I don’t want to be falsely flattering. But I wanted to make beautiful spaces that seduced you into them. That made you think, “This is very beautiful; I’d love to be there,” but then realizing the horror of some of these spaces.

In some cases, I certainly couldn’t go to photograph that; the timing was off, and just in going to Iraq, I couldn’t have gone earlier, and I certainly wouldn’t go today. It becomes irrelevant. When you’re there in a particular spot, you photograph what you’ve got.

Photograph from Architecture Of Authority, published by Aperture, Fall 2007.

You go and anticipate what it’s going to be, but you find whatever happens to be there. I do have to say that the most difficult part about going to Iraq was convincing my wife and kids that I was somewhat sane and that I would have a marriage to come home to and a family to come home to. That was much harder, truly, than convincing the military to let me in there. My wife made some comment that if you were embedded in the military, you’re not embedded with me. [Laughter.]