Still on show in FOAM, Amsterdam’s photography museum, till the 5th of February: Stanley Greene. He is a war photographer. And was active in regions such as Chechnya, Iraq, Rwanda and Sudan. Besides being a photographer he also is one of the founders of NOOR . At show in Amsterdam is not only his work, but, surprisingly enough, pics from his private life as well. The burden of working in such intense circumstances as war photographers do surely has consequences for private lifes. Everybody who has seen the documentary War Photographer on James Nachtwey’s life knows so. In the book and project Black Passport Stanley Greene offers us an insight in his life and his doubts concerning his work.
And that reminds me of a story I read last week. Dutch photographer Roel Visser published a story on the why and how of conflict photography. Why would we want to see that? Why would newspapers want to publish that? Why would photographers go out and take those pictures? All arguments in favor of taking, publishing and seeing those papers revolve around the question of raising awareness, of “stories that the world needs to know”. And hell, argues Visser, that argument has been the same ever since. And the world did not yet become a better place for all of us. In the North war photography shocks us, yes, but than reaffirms us in our comfort zone. War photography than becomes kind of ‘disaster porn’ – satisfying our need for news fixes. War photography than becomes a cynical business. A business of cynicism Renzo Martens touches upon in his project Enjoy Poverty. Click, see and decide for yourself.
By the way, if you want to elaborate on questions like these. Next week Friday, 3rd of February, FOAM organizes a night with Stanley Greene, Teun van der Heijden and Arnold Karskens. These professionals talk about the idealism of photographers, the addiction the work provokes, and the perception of the audience of their work.