agarrando pueblo (1977)

“After the 1970s, the representation of poverty became a true issue for Latin-American cinema. And that is why a film like Agarrando pueblo—of amazing relevance still today—is so significant. Better than any other, this film foresaw the requirements demanded by the world of power for portraying poverty as a spiritual export good destined for rich people throughout the world to take a peep at a poverty far detached from them.

Some may say–and rightly so–that this film made by Mayolo and Luis Ospina remains current today, no one can refute that; representation of poverty still convinces, touches, and is good to get funds. This is still going on now, decades later, just as it did in 1978. Perhaps nowadays there are a few differences, things that back then would have been completely unconceivable. Back in those days it was enough to simply show Latin-American people as the destitute children of universal dearth. The idea was to establish a glance which would raise a high dose of pity and some pretended moral outrage.

And though the current political relevancy of Agarrando pueblo is completely out of the question—the pornographic depiction of poverty has established a recognizable aesthetics of its own—the true genius in this classic film of disobedience lies on the way it questions filmic representation as such. By establishing a separation between a documentary register in black-and-white and another one in color—supposedly, this latter is the film being shot by some Colombian filmmakers for a German TV channel—Mayolo (and Luis Ospina) gobble up this divide in their own film and saturate the devise right to its chore. An extreme close up on Mayolo’s eye peeping through a hole becomes a pivotal point and first warning about the intrusion of fiction in the realm of documentary (and vice versa); this shot is followed by the arrival of a remarkable character who not only reacts to the fraud committed by the fabrication of an aesthetics of poverty but also introduces himself as a sign of the destitution of any principle of purity in any form of representation. To film and to represent always entail an arrangement of truth following an order built upon elements rooted in the collective imagination. In this sense, the participation—at the end of the film—of a homeless man (real or not) alters the epistemological contract between the viewer and what is being presented on the screen. However, this is no hindrance for glimpses of truth being shown through the way the staging of the farce is put into action.

An undisputed master piece of political cinema, it shows a humorous lack of political correctness, as well as an impious discourse and a formal finesse which are normally absent in both satiric and denounce films. An example of it are the decisions in terms of the frames used throughout the film’s last sequence, which represent a whole introduction on the subject which any aspiring filmmaker should take into account.”

Agarrando pueblo

Agarrando pueblo

 

unconcerned but not indifferent

 

 

http://www.broombergchanarin.com/unconcerned-but-not-indifferent-text/

“The tremendous development of photojournalism has contributed practically nothing to the revelation of the truth about conditions in this world. On the contrary photography, in the hands of the bourgeoisie, has become a terrible weapon against the truth. The vast amount of pictured material that is being disgorged daily by the press and that seems to have the character of truth serves in reality only to obscure the facts. The camera is just as capable of lying as the typewriter”

– Bertolt Brecht,1931

western ‘concerned’ news imagery

Dario Mitidieri - Lost Family Portraits - World Press Photo Prize - Syrian Refugee Crisis

Dario Mitidieri – Lost Family Portraits

 

Photographs furnish evidence

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/sep/06/photograph-refugee-crisis-aylan-kurdi

‘… do extreme and distressing images of human suffering make us more aware of the reality of that suffering or desensitise us to it?

When she wrote On Photography, Sontag thought the latter, but when she revisited the topic in a later book, Regarding the Pain of Others, her view had shifted. “As much as they create sympathy, I wrote, photographs shrivel sympathy,” she mused. “Is this true? I thought it was when I wrote it. I’m not so sure now.”’

On June 8, 1972, AP photographer Nick Ut took this photo of 9-year-old Kim Phuc as she ran from an aeral napalm attack.

On June 8, 1972, AP photographer Nick Ut took this photo of 9-year-old Kim Phuc as she ran from an aeral napalm attack.

 A Turkish police officer stands next to the body of the young boy. Photograph: Reuters

A Turkish police officer stands next to the body of the young boy. Photograph: Reuters

Bronx Documentary Center response about Chris Arnade in ‘Altered Images’ exhibition

http://bronxdoc.org/post/124190567599/the-bdc-responds-to-criticism-of-chris-arnades

© Chris Arnade. *Face digitized by the BDC

© Chris Arnade. *Face digitized by the BDC

© Chris Arnade. *Face digitized by the BDC

© Chris Arnade. *Face digitized by the BDC

 

“In every interview I have seen, Mr. Arnade emphasizes the sacrifices he has made for his subjects: giving them $10 to buy heroin; taking them to a detox appointment; even showing prostitutes the stars through his telescope. In one interview he laments that he must sell his multimillion-dollar home in Brooklyn Heights so he can continue to photograph prostitutes and drug addicts: “I’m earning no money, and I’m about to sell my house and move upstate so I can keep doing this.” Lamenting a multi-million dollar real estate deal to continue photographing women who perform oral sex for $10 bespeaks an astonishing level of self-involvement.

Another way to look at it is this: On the backs of these women, Mr. Arnade has gone from faceless Wall Street banker to no small degree of fame; he has an army of followers; his work is published around the world; he sits on panels with respected photographers. To paraphrase JFK, it’s not what Mr. Arnade has done for poor prostitutes and drug addicts, it’s what poor prostitutes and drug addicts have done for Mr. Arnade’s renown.

Finally, and at its root, Mr. Arnade’s work is about power. His photographic “project” utilizes naked women because he has power over the women—power in the form of money to gain access, power to portray them in vulnerable and demeaning positions, power to publish these photos to further his reputation and following.”