Sunday, December 7, 2008

Stanley Greene

"I want everyone to be as angry as I am," is Stanley Greene's answer as to why he feels he has to photograph death and violence. Stanley Greene was born in New York City in 1949 and later attended the School of Visual Arts in New York and then the SFAI where he was a member of the Black Panthers and anti-Vietnam war activist. Greene first came to international fame after he photographed the falling of the Berlin wall, but he is perhaps best known for his photojournalism in Chechnya. I unfortunately missed the first half because of unexpected and incredibly long traffic, but I arrived just in time to see him present Chalk Lines (15). The work was a video collection of his haunting and ghostly black and white images taken in Chechnya. Death and despair flooded every image in the form of blood-spattered walls, bomb and bullet ridden buildings, and charred, mutilated, and bloodied bodies. He described how he couldn't remain objective while amongst the people of Chechnya. He was right there with them as bombs were being dropped over head running alongside them while snapping photographs. The whole experience was incredibly intense for utter lack of a better word. Greene proved he is a war torn man as he cautioned those who want to become conflict photographers. He spoke of how he is 59 years old, single, and with only $100 in the bank and he said all of this without making eye contact with anyone. He explained that he developed what he called the 100 yard stare, where he can't look at people in the eye, but rather past them or he would simply look down at his podium. He described how overwhelmed he felt by all that he had experiences, yet strangely addicted to following conflicts at the same time. Greene perfectly highlights the incredible sacrifice that photojournalists and conflict photographers make in the attempt to share the truth with the rest of the world.

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