War correspondent Kevin Sites is blogging again. Before the war, Sites had been blogging his observations of daily life in Iraq when CNN asked him to stop. Now, he’s working freelance for MSNBC, and they’ve agreed to allow him to continue blogging. The decription of Baghdad as a “colonial” city in one entry was intriguing (I can’t find the specific entry now), a sentiment he connects to conversations with Baghdad citizens. He combines photography and personal narratives in a compelling manner, creating a powerful first-person account of things.
In his October 27 entry, he discusses the ambivalence he feels about photographing Iraqi women:
I often end up taking more pictures of men and boys in Muslim nations because women here are conditioned in modesty and don’t like to be photographed. But it creates a dilemma for me–for while I want to respect their cultural boundaries, I also don’t want to document a society devoid of half it’s population.
This ethical dilemma–situated around around the politics of photography and power–is a major question, in my opinion, and the “modesty” associated with the refusal to be photographed may mean something else, perhaps a refusal to allow one’s image to be co-opted by the “colonial” power (using Sites’ description of the conditions in Baghdad).
A second photograph taken by Sites during a raid of a woman and her daughter also strikes me, especially the young girl who stares (defiantly?) into the camera while her mother covers her face. The gestures have a similar meaning: on the one had, a refusal to be photographed, on the other, a recognition of the apparatus. I’m not making any promises, but given some of the things (especially Marker’s Sans Soleil) I’ve been thinking about lately, these war (or is it a non-war, given the claims of a mission accomplished?) photographs are pretty compelling.