Aperture #226 American Destiny

‘The magazine of photography an ideas’. This edition is mainly about social documentary photography. It’s the first version edition I read and the editors write ‘the projects in this issue are bound by an urge to explore the social and political landscape of the United States’. I hope other editions take other types of photography in account as well. I can’t place the claim that this magazine would be about ideas. Besides the sociale documentary character of the main articles the magazine is incoherent, sloppy, and pointless. Maybe that’s why they claim the magazine is also about ideas, No finishing touch needed.

Like the claim of what the magazine is about in general, the titel, American Destiny, is also too comprehensive. The Pictures have a social content or better I decode a social content. The exploration of the political landscape I can’t decode (except in the LaToya Ruby Frazier article)  or it must be that the intend is for me to be prejudiced in e.g. the political thoughts of a contemplating black worker portrayed in front of a factory. I can decode all kinds of messages from the pictures, but from most not a political one. The accompanying texts are about the photographers and the projects. In these texts I don’t find many clues relating to the exploration of the political landscape. Are the subjects liberals, socialists, democrats, republicans, Clinton or Trump voters, etc. ? The fact that most portrayed people seem to share a similar social status, although that’s a big generalisation and a prejudice as well, doesn’t mean they share political ideas. The projects itself might very well be about the social and political landscape, but the choice of pictures published in the magazine don’t show the political exploration enough. Another reason why the title is too comprehensive is that the main articles are only about a couple of unprivileged societies. That’s too limited to justify the title ‘American Destiny’.

To end with a positive note, the magazine introduced me to some contemporary photographers like LaToya Ruby Frazier, Alessandra Sanguinetti, Carolyn Drake, Mark Neville some critics and a re-introduction to Gregory Halpern. I wrote about him in a previous post.


Aperture 226 American Destiny


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