Monday, 5 March 2018

Picture Post #34: Watching the Tide

'Because things don’t appear to be the known thing; they aren’t what they seemed to be neither will they become what they might appear to become.'

Posted by Tessa den Uyl and Martin Cohen

Photo credit: students of  A Mundzuku Ka Hina, communications workshop. Mozambique

From the plastic on the lower right corner, moving to the left, arise a man and woman, both with one hand touching their face and each with one arm posing on their leg, the diagonal movement flows into the blankets behind them out of the picture. This ‘line’ creates a certain ‘zone’ in which we seem to stand in front of a threshold.

Our eyes may enter ‘the gate’ ‘guarded’ between the two seated persons and the boy standing on the right, to look into a ‘dark’ space where people gather in a circle and diagonally expand to the left into another lateral diagonal line. The composition is as if we are introduced carefully in a gathering, ‘a zone’ we cannot truly enter, we glance at something that is far from us, almost secret.

The picture invites us to regard it from a distant point of view where, at first sight, a kind of picnic, a déjeuner sur l’herbe, slowly changes into something that is far more remote. And yet, this is how some people survive, these rubbish dumps are their home and their daily reality -- along with intoxication and poverty and helplessness as the other side of the coin.

And yet, there is something inspiring about the picture in the posture of the two person’s in the foreground and the boy: the impression is that of creating a ‘gate’ in which the ambiguity of contraries, that in ancient times was certainly seen as an essential element in speaking truth, yields to a logic of the inevitable raising problems that come with more recent social, industrial and political conditions, one in which words have to search for an adaption between truth and oblivion.

Thus as with many such terrible events that happen in the world, we hear about them, we see images, but it is not our skin. The observer, the spectator has a very protected stance

Last week in il Bairro di Hulene, which is the neighborhood of shanty homes raised around the lixeira (dump), seventeen people died under a mass of refuse that detached itself and slid down from the dump pile. Six houses and seven shacks were destroyed including a small ‘press’ that was there to crush the plastic and cans.


Martin Cohen said...

Maybe the post says it all! But I would like to thank our photographers for sharing this evocative, poignant image.

Tessa den Uyl said...

A picture that requests some time...

Thomas Scarborough said...

It brings to mind the words of John Ruskin:

"Pardon me. Men of business do indeed know how they themselves made their money, or how, on occasion, they lost it. Playing a long-practised game, they are familiar with the chances of its cards, and can rightly explain their losses and gains. But they neither know who keeps the bank of the gambling-house, nor what other games may be played with the same cards, nor what other losses and gains, far away among the dark streets, are essentially, though invisibly, dependent on theirs in the lighted rooms. They have learned a few, and only a few, of the laws of mercantile economy; but not one of those of political economy."

Keith said...

Things matter. Dignity matters. Justice matters. The stark inequality of assets matters. And forlornness matters.

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