Images used in photojournalism today look, to me, like fragments of reality snatched from a complex world which is essentially indescribable. They are isolated moments, fragments of attempted accounts which are no longer possible, because contemporary man, assailed by communication, is tired of watching and seeing, without understanding, images stolen from every part of the world. As sociologists and society have pointed out, man now is intent on cultivating his individuality, his solitude and sometimes his egoism, and feels that recounting what happens in the world is futile. I think that classic black and white photography helps to dramatise this impossibility. In the mythic age when photojournalism, the beating heart of communication, blossomed on the pages of newspapers and magazines, this chiaroscuro code was an authoritative, symbolic and powerful document, true testimony of things seen and recorded in the places where they happened. Today, on the other hand, it dramatically shows an extreme desire to bear witness, and alludes to the past greatness of photographic documents, but at the same time it shows all our desperation about a world which is too full of events, disasters, changes and shifts. And if we look inside ourselves we know that this world cannot be understood or recounted.

Because of this, photojournalism today is a heroic thing. It is an old song, a last raised voice.
Because of this, the strongest and truest photojournalism today is that which outlives itself without straining to be “beautiful”. It stays faithful to its “primitiveness”, its leanness, and far from aesthetics. It is a deeply dramatic experience today to see so many fragments of the changing world in black and white photography, scenes in chiaroscuro where the old mixes violently with the new. Not so much, and not only, because the subjects of these images are so dramatic, but because the code used to try to recount them is. It is the silent and noble code of historic photography, a code of nostalgia which is used at the very moment when history dies and its meanings fall into the thick folds of the mass media, while the real world, which is made out of man’s flesh rather than images and runs alongside the world which is portrayed by the mass media, is shaken up, untidy and elusive.

This magazine shows fragments taken from a very complex old-new world. Women with their heads covered, scenes of death, cars, children playing, children suffering, figures alone in the frame or closed in the geometry of architecture, someone jumping, eyes, faces, disease, skies, poverty, accordions, hovels, symbols, the words coca-cola, animals, towns, people dancing, workers’ faces, wrinkles, children posing for the camera, old peasant women, dolls, and dolls’ eyes watching us.

Many photographers have contributed to this edition, but for me photojournalism remains a great collective language. Perhaps even the echo of a language, the ghost, the shadow of a lost language which has settled at the bottom of a history that does not exist any more. It is, therefore, a language which we look upon with tenderness, because as it chases after moments and fragments it also continues to look for the truth, seriously yet simply, like an ancient choir which insists on commenting upon the world as it unfolds.

Blurred images, wide shots, close-ups, details, pieces of lost history. Photojournalism is also a disconnected language, because of the anxiety the photographer feels to tell all, to try to say a little about everything. He recounts different situations in life, fragments of every thing, place and event. In every shot and every choice of viewpoint he tries to find a way to tell, even though the compulsion to tell is less.
(Roberta Valtorta)


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