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There was an article Saturday in The Democrat & Chronicle "Controversy Surrounds Paolo Pellegrin's Prize-WInning Magnum Photo" that after reading left me a bit disturbed. The photo of a man (Caucasian) holding a rifle,wearing a gun belt and reading the caption "former US Marine Corp Sniper with his weapon in the Crescent area of Rochester, NY 2012" is the subject of an ethics debate. My first thought after seeing the photo & caption, are we (African American's and Hispanic's) being portrayed as savages because this man feels the need to be armed to enter "The Crescent?"
I immediately went online to Magnum Photos website and viewed the images for myself. Compelling, disturbing, and moving these images are a reality that we see. Violence, poverty, drug use, and of course the city school system that performs poorly. Of the people Paolo Pellegrin spent time while he was here gathering his information and taking photos were the RPD and The House Of Mercy. Not the people he photographed, the people who are positively active in the community, or other community leaders who could have provided a different view of our city.
Is this portraying our city, our beloved community fairly? What about the good with the bad? I understand that art is subjective, but when you combine it with words instead of letting the pictures speak for themselves is that really art? However you interpret it, adding words to describe what is taking place in the image give the picture a story, a truth good or bad. Maybe that is why Pellegrin's photos are being questioned on ethics.
Take a look for yourself into our lives, our community, our city through the eyes of someone who spent a short time in Rochester, New York.
Paolo Pellegrin's response: