photographs are the puzzled, chaotic articulations of a self-avowed
outsider looking for explanations in areas where other journalists,
confined for months to their on-the-spot positions in front of the
American Embassy, were unable to go. In this context the photographs
are asserted as questions rather than answers, a strategy in keeping
with a growing disbelief that it is possible to present conclusions
without involving the reader in the photographers attempt
to understand. The revelation of the image is located in the telling
not just in the evidence of what has been told.
In Our Time the World as Seen by Magnum Photographers, 1989
All of these women seem completely
unaware that there is a gunman in their midst, or are they so used to
guns they are not alarmed? The stairway where the gunman is stationed
looks like a space reserved just for him, isolated in the center of dark,
repeated shapes of the women on the left, and dark, deep space of the
hallway on the right.
According to the editors of Gilles Peress book on Iran, photographs
like these do little to describe another people and place, but go
a long way toward measuring the distance separating perceptions and cultures.
(Editors, Telex Iran, 1983) In other words, rather than show you
another culture, they show you how far away you are from understanding