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A Blog About Culture

Recognition, Situation, Identity, Reality

I haven’t written in a reeeeeally long time, mostly because I’m frustrated by my own inability to upgrade from frustrated complaints to meaningful discourse and/or productive counter measures. In fact, embarrassingly, I think I’ve been trying to avoid thinking too deeply about any of the topics that interest me, because I have no answer for them.

I was on Pinterest yesterday looking up crochet patterns. I saw a photograph of a Bolivian girl in “ethnic dress,” crocheting a decorative sash. The caption said “Photographer unknown.” I later found a different photo of the same girl in the same moment, and the photographer was credited on that one. While I agree that artwork should be credited, I find it distasteful that the subjects can remain uncredited, anonymous. I think that would be unusual in American media, where permissions and rights are followed so carefully. Would we find a photo taken at a county fair – perhaps a group of girls eating popcorn – and the caption state “American youths eating traditional fare at a community social gathering?” Probably not. It would most likely name them and their towns and maybe their schools. That we don’t treat “foreign” subjects of photography the same way – that is, as real people – seems unconscionable to me.

 
Then again, I recently read this article that describes the Twitter hashtag #TheAfricaTheMediaNeverShowsYou, a collection of articles and photographs that showcase the beauty and modernity of real Africa. That makes me feel a bit better, like people have more agency in their representations and maybe I shouldn’t feel so frustrated.

 

I do think I give too much power away to unseen forces, societal constructs, the Mass. I shouldn’t do that. It makes me helpless. It makes me feel like nothing will change. My unconscious strategy lately has been to ignore it, which is pretty stupid now that I realize it, because that’s what everyone does and that’s why nothing will change. It’s true that I don’t feel things as deeply as others, but I try to focus on some kind of optimism in the world and make the most of what is in front of me rather than feel constantly as though my life is not enough.  I’m just not sure what to do about any of the feelings that I have, and that is why I’m inactive, because I have no answer.

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