On the same opening day of the 2013 edition of Paris Photo, the French newspaper Libération has published on November 14th an issue completely deprived of its images, in order to underline the importance of photography in a very critical phase for the entire category of imaging professionals.
It’s the first time in the newspaper’s history that such a decision has been taken. The consequences clearly show the power of images (or lack thereof) when accompanied to the articles.
I sincerely regret the fact of not having had the possibility to get a copy of the paper from which I could have directly read its content.
The British Journal of Photography reports the reasons behind Libération‘s decision on its front page:
Libération vows an eternal gratitude to photography, whether produced by photojournalists, fashion photographers, portraitists or even conceptual artists. Our passion for photography has never been questioned – not because it’s used to beautify, shock or illustrate, but because photography takes the pulse of our world. To choose Paris Photo’s opening day to “install” these white images highlights our commitment to photography. It’s not a wake, we’re not burying the photographic art […] Instead we give photography the homage it deserves. Yet, no one can ignore the calamitous situation press photographers now find themselves in, especially war photographers who risk their lives while barely making a living, And for those whose work went on show today in the Grand Palais thanks to shrewd gallery owners, we might think that the odds are in their favor, but it’s all smoke and mirrors: the art photography market is currently confused.
An intense debate has followed over the BJP’s article, probably for the nth time, over the death (or not) of photojournalism. Like in most debates, there is no definitive conclusion, rather than more awareness towards the issue.
Personally speaking, I remain optimistic. In support to my opinion, I want to recall my opening article from this blog.
Overall, I approve both the action as well as the reasons of Libération: I, myself, believe that both the artistic photography and contemporary art markets are living a period of great confusion. I also understand the dismay behind the digital revolution, progressively delegitimizing the role of the photojournalist into a wandering snapper, but I doubt we’ll ever plunge into true barbarity.
Convenience can only survive up to a certain point. The fruition of beauty, in the end, is an activity which can literally take our breath away.