Wednesday, 25 August 2021

Magnum 2020

©Alessandra Sanguinetti’s daughter Catalina

„Was it (2020) the end of something? The start of something else? Or merely a blip in an increasingly chaotic and fast-changing world?“ asks Magnum President Olivia Arthur in her foreword. „The jury is still out“, the press release says. „But this book commits the year to paper and offers a means for us to try and make sense of it.“

This book commits the year to paper? Really? I don't think so for that is impossible.. What it does instead is to offer personal views of photographers that belong to the Magnum co-operative that has made itself a name covering many of the world's major events and personalities since the 1930s. In documentary photography, to be a Magnum photographer is considered a badge of honour.

The views presented in this tome are very varied. And, as it is customary in documentary photography, sometimes the words that accompany the pictures are more important than the pictures because without them you would often not know what you are looking at.

However, at times a caption is so utterly confusing that, sadly, it isn't of much help. Take Antoine d'Agata's shot of the silhouette of a mask wearing person (I'm not sure whether it shows a man or a woman) laying on the ground, followed by many very small photos that supposedly show medical personnel treating patients. The series is entitled VIRUS, so I assume that these must be Covid-19 victims I'm looking at; the caption lists numerous places from Maison de Santé Protestante de Bordeaux – Bagatelle to Clinique Mobile, Mission France – Médecins sans Frontières – Paris. I presume these are the locations where these shots were taken. As far as I'm concerned, this isn't exactly a convincing way to illustrate what Covid-19 is doing to us for it leaves too much to our imagination and interpretation respectively. I was much more impressed by Nanna Heitmann's „Hospital 52, Moscow, Russia, 2020“ that compellingly demonstrates our helplessness. 

For the full review, see here

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