by Margherita Guerra founder Yourpictureditor
The cover image you see here can look like a real abstract piece of art with wonderful colours. And in a way it is so. But this image is an actual description of what a toxic substance can do and how it can transform our environments. Beauty can be used to draw attention to an important ecological matter. This is the thesis of Industrial Scars, an exhibition by renown photographer J. Henry Fair at this year’s edition of Umbria World Fest. The Festival is right at our doors: it opens this Friday and will investigate the relationship between truth and photography. This is a current issue, in some ways an open wound, but at the same time a challenge that the media world must take on. We talk about it with J. Henry, who knows this topic well.
Our age is particularly uncertain, in many areas and, in particular, in information. What are the roles and the responsibilities of photography?
In our age of post-truth the photograph should represent fact. Actually, photography has become the most effective tool of fake news. Meanwhile, photography as an art has turned inward, asking repeatedly: what is a photograph, and what is the ìvoiceî of the artist? Photography must show people the real world, and must be honest about the techniques used in the telling of that story. The issues of our day are too important, and only photography can illuminate them.
How has the enormous technological evolution in image production and diffusion influenced the ability of photography to tell the truth?
The photograph was always the best tool for the propagandist. Long before photoshop, images were altered to tell a different story. Now, even though we expect and know that all images are altered, we are still deceived, and so there is a loss of trust in photography. But those with a story to tell must move forward, and hope that honesty and simplicity will win the hearts and minds of people.
Is there a particular image that makes you think about the relationship between photography and reality?
A recent striking example of a photo used in the service of the lie is one that was altered to show Trump rescuing a flood victim in the Harvey Hurricane who was actually being rescued by three rescuers with the Austin Fire Department.
Umbria World Fest
PostTruth. Photography in the age of uncertainty
13th /14 th /15th October
Photography exhibition open up to 12th November
Credit Cover photo: J. Henry Fair, “Industrial Scars”
J Henry Fair makes pictures that examine the ironies of life in the modern world. Speaking about his Industrial Scars series, Roberta Smith, chief art critic of The New York Times said “The vivid color photographs of J. Henry Fair lead an uneasy double life as potent records of environmental pollution and as ersatz evocations of abstract painting…information and form work together, to devastating effect. Mr. Fair’s work has been featured in by The TODAY Show, CNN, NPR’s Marketplace, and WDR German TV, as well as in most major publications, including The New York Times, National Geographic, Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, Die Zeit, Le Figaro, Harper’s, Smithsonian, and Scientific American. Additionally, Mr. Fair’s work travels around the world as exhibitions at major museums, galleries, and educational institutions.