Between Devil & Deep Blue

photo+text installation, 2006 (w/ Robert Bailey)

Asia Society, New York

Considering photography's complicated history as a tool of icon building, images around this issue are in need of interrogation. Consider the Soviet fascination with industrialization, and the manner in which Rodchenko's photographs of Baltic Canal workers advanced the modernization agenda of the socialist state. On the other side of the soon-to-be cold war axis, the US Farm Security Administration's project on the American dustbowl obscured the brutal reality off camera. Sebastiao Salgado, whose haunting photographs first brought attention to the Chittagong yards, became in philosopher Susan Sontag’s words, "the principal target of a new campaign against the inauthenticity of the beautiful".