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Marvin Heiferman: Rethinking photography


The set of illustrated texts compiled by Marvin Heiferman should be read as series testimonies. Each is by turns pertinent, touching, disturbing, poetic and scientific, chosen by theme or at random. For two years, the American curator and critic has collected stories of pictures told by different people. Through this variety of interlocutors, he frees photography from its reductive definition—either artistic or informative—to connect it to commercial, social, political, cultural and personal issues. In a world saturated with images, he reminds us of their overwhelming power to “engage us visually, neurologically, intellectually, emotionally, viscerally and physically.” The book is divided into six section relating to the impact of photography, to the changes it imposes on what we want, what we see, what we do, where we go and what we remember. Each chapter is recognizable by a color code borrowed from the variations of light on a spectrum, introduced by a summary of the different subjects. As opposed to a classic linear essay, this book is a puzzle that one put together as one pleases, with each argument completing the following without the need to approach them chronologically. The design encourages this non-linear reading, and the open meaning takes shape text by text, according the relationship the reader has with the photographic image.

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