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Without Sanctuary

Now this video does not make for easy viewing, featuring as it does postcards of lynchings. These were openly sold in the USA well into the 20th Century. So if you do watch – I’ll be offended if it doesn’t upset you. But I think the video also shows that photography as a social document can still be a powerful force. The commentary also asks difficult questions about the role of the photographer as an observer or participant in such events. Further, it takes an item (lynching postcards) that were meant for the amusement of racists and uses it against them. I think the Guantanamo Bay torture photographs are an obvious recent example of a similar process. The video itself also confirms my belief that documentary photographers should look seriously at the value of changing their role to one of being a curator of other people’s evidence, rather than producing their own original work, to tell a story more effectively. Thanks to Steve Schofield for telling me about this video.

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