Issue

4.7 / Tender Neutrality

January 17 2013

Introduction

January 17, 2013. Even without the vividness of Randall Miller's descriptions, we would recognize the photographs about which he writes. The gestures that herald the disbelief, heartbreak, and grief of an entire town are readily recalled or at hand, preserved in media and in memory. They are already the signifiers—the vocabulary—for so many things: Newtown, gun violence, senselessness. This role disallows for the "tender neutrality" that Matthew H. Tedford attributes to photojournalist Gabriele Stabile's photographs, which do not "sensationalize, glorify, or villainize; instead they treat their subjects as individuals." And perhaps that is why the images of the Newtown massacre are inert; the act of representation shortens their reach. As much as photographs allow us to sympathize, they also compartmentalize. As Sarah Hotchkiss aptly suggests in her review of Fiat Lux Redux, do the images of the present curtail our visions of the future or allow us to project our hopes and dreams forward? Enjoy - PM

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