Awareness does what exactly?
Prompt change, initiate initiatives?
Feel empathy, sympathy, wish things were different? Then what?
I have been looking at some documentary photography and I read stories about mothers loosing their children in death while being raped, the love lost in the elderly, the battles in the anorexic mind and I imagine all these stories exhibited beautifully in an art gallery for all to view.
Are we admiring the photography, the colours, the light, the composition, and the viewpoint? Or are we admiring the strength, the love, the life and the loss in the stories? Or, are we admiring the ability of the photographer to touch us with these stories just through the use of a picture?
What are we celebrating, showing, highlighting exactly? Are we making art from tragedy or is tragedy art whether we like it or not?
Is it naive, silly of me to feel guilty for admiring these tragedies in all its photographic glory? Guilty because as a spectator, I remain a spectator. I become aware of the wrongs, the rights, the horrors and the mishaps but just rub my chin, tilt my head, feel a tear a tear in my eye then walk out the door in time for lunch?
If it is the skill in photography that is the art then I should be able to find wonderful photography about a carton of milk but I don’t, I can’t.
There is no doubt about it. The art is in the connecting – the act of transcending our own reality into another’s.
Really then, documentary photography’s biggest competitor is complacency.