Sunday, 1 February 2009

Guatemala: Controversial Images of Violence

I came across this article about Daniel Hernández Salazar, a photographer who exhibited his photographs of the Guatemalan civil war at the UN in Geneva. Some of Hernández Salazar's images, which "straddle the line between photojournalism and art", were considered potentially offensive and removed from the exhibition because they contained nudity. However they may be viewed at this website.* I'm not really going to address the censorship issue - I can see why an international institution shies away from the exhibition of particularly controversial objects in its buildings, although in general I find objecting to depictions of nudity, but not violence as such, rather odd. Anyway, the images are interesting in their highly stylised composition, consciously reminiscent of depictions of the dead Christ. There's a certain aesthetic quality about the male bodies laid out on the railway line. Why is the body beautiful? Does this help or hinder us to remember the actual dead? What is the role of art in remembering? Certainly questions about which much can be said, and which I may come back to. I wish the website showed the whole exhibition and not just the removed images!

*Quite obviously, nudity after the jump. You worked that out already, so don't click if you're at work and it could get you into trouble...

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