Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Polidori Story- A Little Guidance, Please

OK. So maybe, maybe, the guy's a bit of a scumbag, or a complete shit. Or maybe, just maybe...

After yesterday's bit o' soul searching, couldn't help but amp it up a notch into this still festering wound...  Perhaps I just haven't done my homework; perhaps I am excusing the means for the end. What I had read was off putting- but it all became real to me upon finally seeing Some Points Between... Up Till Now. The photographs are beautiful. Not only beautiful, but they speak to the human condition in this big, unfair, often ironic and sometimes brutal world of ours. And the moral compass is left uncharacteristically wavering and veering wildly.

Supposedly he broke into people's homes, to take pictures during Katrina, supposedly he "broke" into peoples' homes while they were still inside- and very much dead. And if that wasn't enough, you then learn that some of the photos were then used for an anti smoking campaign in Brazil... Huh? Wha?

Again, how does one begin to sort that out? Or, is this where one simply says, do you really have to ask? But then there's the troubling detail (in addition to his explanation) of the photos in that book- photographs alive with color, beautiful with decay, and reverberating with the life and destruction that (alas!) has been humanity since inception. Leni Riefenstahl created art for the sake of propaganda- pretty cut and dried. Mr. Polidori ponders and reflects on the very mortality of our human achievements. And seems he'll do exactly that even by means some of us may find objectionable.

Any one of his essays (eg- Beirut, Havana, Chernobyl, New Orleans) taken by itself may sound the singular note of the now fatigued interior decay motif- together they flesh out a greater whole, a larger truth, a grander vision (the online jpgs provide little of that insight). So I'm left with the photographs, which will speak well beyond his actions for the eternity of their existence- which does not necessarily justify their existence or make any of this "fair."

Do we then reconsider, learn to separate the man from his art, or condemn them both?


Mike C said...

My soul searching has just begun. I'd seen a few of his photos but was unaware of the - I'll call it questionable decision - to invade the deathbed or the use of the New Orleans photos. More thinking on this required.

Stan B. said...

Agreed... This has been discussed before, but I thought that with the passage of some time, and the publication of this book- it is well worth a second consideration.