Werkelijkheid en betekenis bij verkiezing World Press Photo

Hoe waar is een journalistieke foto, zo vragen de Zuidafrikaanse fotografen Adam Broomberg en Oliver Chanarin zich af na de jurering bij World Press Photo. En ze voelden zich leeg na het kiezen van de winnende foto. Ze schrijven over hun ervaringen in het vernieuwde magazine ‘foto8’.
‘In the final analysis we were chosing between a French landscape, a dead guerrilla, an HIV positive mother and an American soldier. A strange task. Rather predictably the majority vote went to Tim Hetherington’s soldier.Yet comparing so many diverse images and ultimately declaring one of them a winner feels meaningless. Do we even need to be producing these images any more? Do we need to be looking at them? We have enough of an image archive within our heads to be able to conjure up a representation of any manner of pleasure or horror. Does the photographic image even have a role to play any more? Video footage, downloaded from the internet, conveys the sounds and textures of war like photographs never could. High Definition video cameras create high-resolution images twenty-four photographs a second, eliminating the need to click the shutter. But since we do still demand illustrations to our news then there is a chance to make images that challenge our preconceptions, rather than regurgitate old clichés.’

Over het weergeven van de werkelijkheid schrijven Broomberg en Chanarin: ‘Within the tradition of the World Press Photo awards, and in the category of News in particular, there is the largely outdated expectation that a photograph should mirror the scene witnessed by the photographer–it must be unmediated. Yet the dubious relationship between photography and reality is by now widely accepted. After all some of the most iconic ‘documentary’ images etched in our minds have been staged, for the camera. For this Jury however the possibility of a ‘constructed’ news image was worrying. By contrast the author of these photographs is not playing the role of reliable witness, dutifully recording events without bias. He announces himself present at the scene, making a simple conceptual framework and a level of artifice visible that interrupts the idea of the photographer as invisible, and the photograph as evidence. This is refreshing.’

‘Geen wonder dus dat er verwarring ontstaat. Want verderop lezen we:
Tim Hetherington, who took this photograph, later told us the following illuminating anecdote. His photographs were first published by Vanity Fair who also happened to be running a feature on Francis Ford Coppola in the same edition. Both Tim’s photographs from Afghanistan and stills from Coppola’s Apocalypse Now were being printed on the office zerox machine. A staff writer came to collect the fictional stills and accidentally walked away with the real thing.’

• foto8: Unconcerned but not indifferent