Steve McCurry - Essay Example

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Steve McCurry
The role of photography in art is still ambiguous. Yet, it can be termed as an art as it can present the viewer with an entire story. …
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Steve McCurry
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"Steve McCurry"

Download file to see previous pages “Otherizing” is a unique feature of photography, which can be defined as conveying some meaning to the viewer along with the photograph so that the viewer interpret the picture in a certain way. In fact, this is what happens when a viewer sees something that they cannot actually relate to. The artists who are effective in otherizing manage to convey the feeling with minimal effort and the communication takes place in a vey subtle way though the overall effect is rather large. One of such photographers is Steve McCurry who is well known for his dramatic pictures. His most famous photograph is the Afghan Girl (1984). McCurry is a photographer of armed conflicts including the Iran-Iraq war, Lebanon Civil War, the Cambodian Civil War, the Islamic Insurgency in the Philippines, the Gulf war, the Afghan War and so on and on. Throughout his photography career, he focused on the consequences of war on human life, and the specialty of his work is that the effects are not in the landscape, not in the dress, but simply in the face and eyes of human face. A close analysis of the works by McCurry reveals that many of the works by McCurry proves that he is trying to otherize the subjects, and this otherization comes as a result of the traits of colonialism and the concept of supremacy of the West which remain in both the conscious and unconscious of the photographer. The West always had a curiosity towards the Oriental Other, and this tendency is clearly seen in the works of McCurry. The pictures to be analyzed here are the Afghan Girl (1985; 2002). The first picture was shot in an informal school in a refugee camp. The photograph shows a girl in red burqua with the backdrop of a green building. Her face is somewhat youthful, but her eyes are wide open, fearful, doubtful, and green in color. A look into the eyes of the Afghan girl reveals a lot of things to the viewer. First of all, the problems suffered by the girl in her life are evident in her watchful, vigilant and untrusting eyes. McCurry makes sure that the youth and innocence of the girl well-contrasts with the fear in the girl’s eyes. One can see that McCurry has selected a green building as the backdrop of the picture. Coincidently, or intentionally, the green color of the backdrop is seen in the girl’s eyes too. In addition, the green background is combined with the green burqua worn by the girl, thus attracting the viewer to the eyes as they seem to pop. Furthermore, the picture is taken in a low light setting so that the face and eyes receive more attention. Though the wrinkles and burns of the burqua are hidden, the overall effect is a revelation in concealment. A close analysis of the picture reveals that the girl does not look like a thirteen year old girl, and the main reason behind the over-aging is the fear in her eyes. One can see that this fear is again supplemented by the defiance evident in her eyes. In order to understand how the great artist is not free from the sin of otherizing, one should look at the other photograph as well. Now, it is necessary to turn to the second picture of the same girl McCurry took after seventeen years (2002). This time, the artist visited the place again and met the girl. By this time, she was between 28 and 30, and with her husband’s permission, he took the second photograph of the Afghan girl. The first point visible in the second photograph is the lifelessness in her eyes. Though fearful, the first photo is filled with a lot of life, but in the second photo, there is no energy in the eye, and it has lost its glitter. In addition, the artist uses the technique of using dark colors instead of the green and red in the first one. Though ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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