Response to “On the Rights of Molotov Man”

My initial reading of Joy Garnett’s half of this piece made me feel very strongly about blogger nmazca’s question: “who owns the rights of this man’s struggle?” While many photographers of revolutions, slums, hidden cultural traditions, and other areas of intense human vulnerability or uniqueness do  truly just want to educate the public on their subjects’ stories, still some are more focused on their own portfolios and fame, or have less selfish but equally harmful effects by disregarding the message the subject wants to be relayed.

  In the second half of the piece, it was, of course, clear that Susan Meiselas was not one of such photographers, and was simply concerned that Bareta’s mission not be separated from his image. When an artist takes a photo (captures and reproduces an image from reality) that carries a specific message, I believe it is his or her responsibility to see that photo is not misinterpreted. Susan Meiselas was certainly justified in her attempt to maintain the story behind her image.

I do also understand Garnett’s desire to separate the context of the Molotov Man from the emotion in the photograph, but it is so, so wrong of us to demean and  another human being’s struggles and their origins- so much that they’re not of enough worth to even mention- for our own benefit (in this case, an art project to “portray frustration and anger”). Perhaps this is quite a radical stance, but I cannot imagine how I would feel if a time of immense turmoil in my life was warped into the complete opposite of what it really was.

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