Photojournalist Ruben Salvadori started out with the intention of filming riots in East Jerusalem. In time, he came to shift the focus of his own camera to include the photographers around him. The resulting shift in perspective can be quite startling. It’s an ongoing project for Salvadori, and one that certainly seems quite promising.
It isn’t entirely clear to me how Salvadori’s own intervention will play out in the Palestinian crisis. He seems to be suggesting a layer of collusion between the Palestinian protesters and the photographers who cover them, but it isn’t clear that Salvadori means to limit his critique to such a partisan angle. One can as easily address the questions he raises to photojournalists embedded in conventional forces.
The simple inclusion of photographers in the field of vision provides a stark reminder that the images of world conflict do not come to from on high, or even out-of-bounds, but from people who are very much a part of the events they are filming. The stories told in these images are in some sense reflexive, they are also part of the violence itself, but realization of this fact seems to require a little extra work, an effort to shift our attention to this fact. Joshua Oppenheimer’s film, The Act of Killing, helps to reveal that. Salvadori’s project does this as well.
We get a glimpse into the role that media plays on the scene of a conflict every once in awhile. I remember Gerald Vizenor‘s comments about the American Indian Movement helped to break the fourth wall in stories about Wounded Knee and similar events, at least for those who read his works. For many Americans, I suspect the most unexpected (and apparently unwelcome) peek behind the journalistic lens came with the landing of U.S. marines in Mogadishu. The image of combat-ready marines surrounded by photographers caused quite a stir back in the day. I recall quite a few folks lashed out at the photographers for endangering the landing forces with their presence. Few seemed to question the process by which a marine force had come to storm a beach guarded by scores of photographers in the first place.
It’s been some time since that shocking moment when Mogadishu queered the whole subject of war, and it’s good to see someone else tugging at the curtains again. The short clip Salvadori has presently made available (see below) raises more questions than it answers. It will be interesting to see where his project goes.
Juliana Lightle said:
As long as the Israeli government allows the property of Palestinians to be destroyed so that settlers can then build, peace seems to me to be highly improbable. I am not anti Israel. However, current Israeli policies fail to further hopes for a Palestinian state and any sort of peace.
Interesting post. I’ve read some of Vizenor’s stuff, including some about the American Indian Movement.
This post reminds me of when I took some photos of a marriage equality demonstration a little over a year ago. There were a group of Femen protesting. When people saw the photos, they said, “Wow, those girls must be so committed to be demonstrating topless in December.” Now, I don’t want to minimize their part in the protest. I think it was great they were there. However, the march was several miles and they only demonstrated for a few minutes at the beginning. It was clearly for the cameras. Several clothed women made a space for them in the crowd, and then the group came out. In this picture you can see the line of photographers.
Christ, did I really type “girls?” Where did I pick up that habit? I have to stop it.
After I viewed this I then was able to confirm more of what I’ve read and seen on other sites….The Palestinians taunting and causing conflict with the Israelis. Do they not have anything better to do?
The Palestinians arrived from many other Arab countries and settled here. Even with all the vast amount of territory that they descended from and could safely go back to some extent…they want what is not theirs. Israel was designated to the Jewish people in 1948. It is a very small country, but it is theirs. After the Holocaust nearly 3/4 of the population was wiped out. Even after the war, many had nowhere to go, Europe has the limit, US could only or would only accept so many….so it is my opinion the land belongs to the Jews, as it was given to them. Israel has been trying to come to some peace with these people, but it isn’t going to happen.
Rather the Palestinians seem to prefer living in poverty, raising their children in unhealthy conditions, teaching their children to fight and rebel, and then blame the people of Israel for trying to defend themselves.