|Donald Weber: Interrogations|
Saw this book and knew I would have to purchase it. Ironically, both the book (in format and construction) and the photographs within are equal parts crude and "beautiful," if the latter can be applied to such subject matter- which almost appears contrived, set up, actors rehearsing their parts. Of course, such is far from the case.
Portraiture has always been a seductive, complicated dance between subject and photographer, one which places the former in a somewhat vulnerable, compromising situation- sometimes suspicious of the ambitions of the photographer, and always unknowing as to the final result. Even when the dance is fully collaborative, it's the photographer that has the last word on how the end result will be seen, portrayed, even interpreted. So we must ask ourselves why those in the position found in Interrogations would ever consent to have their picture taken (the vast majority did not). Why would people already feeling as vulnerable as possible subject themselves to a process which could only cause further apprehension, even humiliation? Perhaps they thought having their picture taken by a foreign journalist would actually afford them some measure of protection, at minimum provide evidence of their existence and location before they disappeared into a vast bureaucratic penal system never to be heard from again? Perhaps it was the mere opportunity that rarely presented itself in their bleak if far from ordinary lives? I guess we'll never know.
I suppose some would argue that we already know that what is depicted here, and worse, occurs across the world, and that the photographs are therefore somewhat superfluous. But without ready access to direct evidence, we are forever allowed the luxury of abstraction, and worse yet- denial. Work such as this deprives us the opportunity to conveniently look away.