Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Theory & Photography-Interview With Iconic Photographer Roy DeCarava

The late, great photographer Roy DeCarava: The Online Photographer and Bud Mishkin's NY 1 Interview with DeCarava
(Essay written by Jim Johnson on his "Politics, Theory & Photography" blog, dated 4 February 2008)

In this series of passages Roy DeCarava circles back, starting from race and politics to photographing and lighting and color, and back to politics, or political doubts and anxieties about the second photograph. What I like is that DeCarava has an open-ended conception of what makes the photograph "work," in the sense that it is precisely the tensions it elicits instead of the lessons it imparts that he finds most powerful. It seems to me that his assessment intertwines aesthetics and politics is an especially intimate way.
Dancers, New York (1956): © Roy DeCarava
"When I photograph people, even when I alluded to their Blackness, and the best part of their heritage I was looking at people as human beings, I was, looking at them at the stage before they were called Black. The color of one’s skin has been used as a device ever since it was discovered, to confuse us, to demean; and when I say us, I’m talking about everybody. It’s a sickness that touches us all, and I think we have to be careful that we don’t embrace it. My militancy was always curbed by a sense of, ‘Well, yes, it’s important that I know this, but it’s more important that I do this — that I resist.’ So that kept me quite political, in the soldier sense: committed to social change. There isn’t anything that isn’t political."
"I made a choice not to get caught in the meanness; I’m not interested in that. I’m interested in the possibilities."
(click here to read the full essay on the Politics, Theory and Photography blog, and here to watch Budd Mishkin's NY 1 interview with Roy DeCarava.)

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