Rephotographing Atget

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Christopher Rauschenberg writes:

Eugene Atget documented Paris from 1888 until his death in 1927. Like many people, I consider him to have been the greatest photographer of all time. Atget straightforwardly documented the city with photographs that give you the feeling that all the transitory things that people do and are have washed away, leaving only their transcendent accomplishments.

On a 1989 trip to Paris, I suddenly found myself face to face with a spiral-topped gatepost that I knew very well from a beautiful photograph by Atget (the photograph on the left). I rephotographed his gatepost from memory (the photograph on the right) and wondered how many other Atget subjects might still be holding their poses.

There, among the things and places that Atget had admired, I resolved to return and do a rephotographic exploration to discover if the haunting and beautiful Paris of Atget’s vision still existed. (lensculture.com)

A selected archive of Atget’s photographs is hosted at George Eastman House.

Exposure

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An outstanding New Yorker article about “the woman behind the camera at Abu Ghraib,” by Philip Gourevitch and Errol Morris:

She liked to look. She might recoil from violence, but she was drawn to its aftermath. When others wanted to look away, she’d want to look more closely. Wounded and dead bodies fascinated her. “She would not let you step on an ant,” Sergeant Davis said. “But if it dies she’d want to know how it died.” And taking pictures fascinated her. “Even if somebody is hurt, the first thing I think about is taking photos of that injury,” Harman said. “Of course, I’m going to help them first, but the first reaction is to take a photo.” In July, she wrote to her father, “On June 23 I saw my first dead body I took pictures! The other day I heard my first grenade go off. Fun!” Later, she paid a visit to an Al Hillah morgue and took pictures: mummified bodies, smoked by decay; extreme closeups of their faces, their lifeless hands, the torn flesh and bone of their wounds; a punctured chest, a severed foot. The photographs are ripe with forensic information. Harman also had her picture taken at the morgue, leaning over one of the blackened corpses, her sun-flushed cheek inches from its crusted eye sockets. She is smiling—a forced but lovely smile—and her right hand is raised in a fist, giving the thumbs-up, as she usually did when a camera was pointed at her. (The New Yorker)

A very friendly and snappy tip of the hat to the inimitable didactique…via Facebook.