Tagged With « politics »
I get it. I am a 59 year-old, white male. I work in a field that once provided me with a very good living, a field that has been decimated by changing technology and globalization. The work that I used to get paid good money to create is now done by people overseas, or by others in America, who get paid much less than I ever would accept, or by machines. But I am still troubled by the recent election result because American workers, like me, have been displaced by changes in the economy and labor market for decades if not centuries. Adaptability to change is a hallmark of what has been dubbed “American exceptionalism”. So what changed in this election?
Annu Palakunnathu Matthew (my wife) has created new work in her series Bollywood Satirized, work that she describes as “…a critical commentary on the societal expectations that I experienced as a woman growing up in India.” The work is going up outside, on the walls in Bangalore, India, to riff on the Bollywood posters she is satirizing. This video shows the process of displaying work that was made recently in response to the horrific Delhi rape.
In January I spent three weeks in Asia, mostly in Singapore. As always it was a stimulating trip on many levels. The food was great, the company equally good and the workshops were a blast. I have been trying to put a bit of distance between myself and that experience. I want to figure out which parts were really important and blog-worthy (and which parts were fun when they happened but don’t have much long term meaning.) I do this because unlike some bloggers, if I write about something to soon after it happens, I usually emphasize the wrong thing.
Sometimes, when I am blogging, I think that the art is connecting things that initially seem disconnected and pondering them until I can organize disparate threads into a good blog entry. That exact process started when I was recently in Los Angeles for a few days at the start of a long road trip. I kept coming face-to-face with reminders of the ways that privatization is ruining much of our society. Even worse is the thought that as bad as these changes are for someone like me in the middle class, they are much worse for the working poor across this country. They are the people who will really lose when no one (other than God) sorts out the privatization mess we are making.
In May, I wrote a blog entry that was about politics, had little to do with photography and argued against “the myth of over-burdensome regulation.” Today, I am going to follow up on that blog entry. I will be returning to politics to explore a bit of American history where the federal government did go too far, in my opinion and photography was at the core of the situation.
I follow certain topics on the web, and in the “old” media very closely, including, of course, my passion and profession, photography. I also closely follow issues such as politics, news from India, the foreclosure crisis, the media itself (old and new) as well as events in the Middle East, etc. All of that is not terribly unusual. But what is extraordinary to me is the one subject that I follow the most closely, after the obvious topics. I recently realized that, in this day of partisan divides my perspective on this one issue mirrors my perspective on government in general. (Spoiler alert here! I am about to get political.)
Normally, I try really hard to stay away from political commentary in this blog. Partly out of fear of offending readers of divergent political views. Mostly though, I am afraid that I have nothing else to add of any value to the discussion of the day. This week was one of those rare times where the fates came together and I feel perfectly comfortable writing what looks like, on first glance, a politically focused blog entry. The astute reader will follow this piece to its conclusion to see how it relates to many of the ongoing themes I blog about (probably too often.)
There is a new exhibition of the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art. I look forward to seeing it in person in the near future. I have long been a fan of Cartier-Bresson’s work. His was some of the first important work I saw when I was studying the history of photography. The work showed me how photography could be so much more than just a representation of the scene in front of the camera. Up to that point I had learned most of what I knew about photography from a commercial photographer turned photo teacher. Starting from that point, Cartier-Bresson’s work was a paradigm shift for me. In the recent review in the New York Times of the new Cartier-Bresson exhibition, the reviewer is attempting to similarly shift the paradigm of how we should consider the work of Cartier-Bresson. His approach struck me as almost absurd (and his review had factual errors.)
During my recent trip to Vietnam, I put to rest the lingering anxieties, stereotypes and misconceptions that I had held on to concerning that country. On that same trip, I also “finished” a long-standing (and rather informal) “personal project” that I had been working on for a couple decades. Since I was eighteen I have been subconsciously trying to “understand” Communism. The project was not an overtly photographic one, but photography certainly helped me in my pursuit of better understanding of that ideology.
When I told my seventeen-year old daughter I was going to Vietnam, she was very impressed. I ostensibly went to visit a friend who lives there and to try to see the country through his eyes. I also went to photograph (and scout locations for a potential photo workshop.) I am pretty sure my daughter thinks of Vietnam in connection with the TV show, the Amazing Race and maybe the musical, Miss Saigon. For American men of a certain age (like me,) Vietnam conjures up something very different.
A week in China is hardly enough time to see much of anything, let alone make any kind of serious analysis. So what I am writing is not remotely all-encompassing. Still, I have been to India enough times and traveled enough in the developing world to be able to make a few reasonably well-informed comparisons.