I read in an well-researched book about a 20th century European leader who did soemthing the complete opposite of your story. That behavior was a matter of national policy and accepted (albeit not universally even within that country). Should we not moralize about that too?
p.s. Your story is interesting because it is very much like another I read once 9in a well-researched academic book/journal) where the tribal king de-flowered each girl in the tribe. He even saved a memory by shaving her "personal hair" and kept it in a pillow, upon which he slept every night. I must admit to not being sure wheter to suggest that he was possibley depraved, or possible the luckiest man on the face of the earth.
Agreed, and perhaps "moralise" is the wrong word, but I am not an anthropologist, or an "ologist" at anything really. My story was just to suggest that what is anathema to some is, rightly or wrongly, revered by others and we shouldn't judge without the full facts. This does have relevance to us as photographers - even some photos in the gallery that we consider "art" could be considered inappropriate if viewed out of context.Quote:
True to an extent. Understanding the context in which people behaved within the context of their native environment and times is very important to understanding their beliefes and behaviours
There is another part to my story - My friend, the agent for our equipment, is not a native of this country he lives in. Even though he was born there and has lived all of his life there, by law he can never become a citizen, or own property in that country. Nor can he be the sole owner of any company (there must always be a native on the board). In some ways this is apartheid (although not bigotry), and yet he accepts it, has no quarrel with it, is quite happy to remain in that country (rather than return to the country for which he has a passport) and he is part of a successful company. At a recent company gathering, we (and some other world agents for our equipment) had a very interesting and long conversation late into the night (over in the end too many beers). I offer no opinion or judgement, but it was enlightening that our (my) "western values" are not universal, and when we seek to impose them on other cultures we may not be doing them any favours.Quote:
Do we excuse racial bigotry (thinking southern US in the 1950s, for example) as acceptable because the majority apparently practiced such beliefs and it was memorialized in the laws
(2) I can relate. Just last night I was in conversation with a man who is father to a child in my child's class. We were discussing grades and an online tool we use to monitor our children's academic work. That software allows limits to be set for which an information message will be sent to the parent via email. We quickly learned that he and I had vastly different criteria: his being A minus, and mine being quite a bit lower. He thought I was crazy (as did I think of him) until he told me that an A minus is an "Asian F". He is Asian and I am not. We probably still think each other is a bit nuts, but we are friends because neither one of us will judge each other... in fact, neither one of us will give each other advise either. These cultural differences can be hilarious at times!
Bringing it back to photograhy for a moment... we run into the same issue on that topic when we are both photographing our kids at school events. He seems to sneer at me as I reload film, and I must do the same as he chimps his digital camera. But when we share photos it's all good, as the kids say.
What was once acceptable, even lawful, at one time in a society or culture may now be quite unacceptable, unlawful, and seen as very wrong indeed at another time when society's norms and values have changed. To change the subject under examination for a moment, I reflect on how the early colonisers treated the indigenous people they encountered. In the majority of cases it seems it was very cruelly and the systemic cruelty was enshrined in law. It seems too, that very often the quite sincere belief and justification for this was that it "was for their own good". Others motivated by self-interest and profit saw the indigenous people as no better (and sometimes worse) than animals.
Today such actions are regarded as reprehensible and totally unacceptable. Laws have changed, reparation made in some cases and, belatedly, even an apology offered for the actions of our forebears who, as a society if not individually, were the perpetrators.
It bothers me somewhat that, on our behalf, our governments and agencies are still making laws, rules and implementing systems of management which by comparison seem relatively enlightened, but how will our own well-meaning interventions be seen by a future generation? How sure are we that we are doing the right thing now and not being blinded by our own hubris?
So getting back on the topic, How sure are we that the high moral ground we occupy in passing judgement on the work of a long dead photographer with some unusual preferences for subject matter, is in fact the foundation of human values and decency? Or is it just that from where we stand at present it looks different and in another hundred years people may be making entirely different assessments? Will Mapplethorpe, Newton, and Henson become tarred with the same brush and pilloried, or regarded universally as brilliant pioneers of the genre?
But can we explore the phrase "passing judgement" for a moment. That seems to be one of the challenges we've faced in this thread. If anyone ever said, "XYZ is a criminal" then that is passing judgement. If one says, "It seems like certain behaviors of XYZ appear potentially wrong" then I'm not sure that is passing judgement.
I don't know Henson's work, but I feel confident saying that some people have already publically criticized Mapplethorpe, Newton, and Mann too. Same with "Jauque" Sturges. Sturges was investigated by FBI but never charged, tried or convicted. Sure, someone "passed judgement" on him to get the FBI investigation going but I don't know that most photographers particularly agree with that judgement. I surely don't. But how do I (or anyone except perhaps "Jauque" and his models) know for absolutely sure... I don't and can't.
Unfortunately when one embarks on "edgy behavior", whether photographic or otherwise, they will draw a great diversity of opinion. Some may pass judgement absolutely, but most that I know (and I think we have generally experienced in this thread) have opinions and insights but are sufficiently uncertain that the discussion is one of possiblilities rather than absolute condemnation.
If we are not allowed that opportunity, then we have little to discuss except the weather, and maybe in my location the traffic conditions. Nobody, I believe I can fairly say, has sufficient first-hand authoritative information to discuss politics, business practices, or historical events if we are not allowed to use best available information and fill in the gaps with analysis and a certain amount of conjecture.
But less philosopical and more toward photographic technique... does anyone know if Dodgson/Carroll (or others of that era) ever used artificial lighting, or light modifiers?
My aunt was married at age 13, to a man who was 27 years old (I think it was, about that at any rate) at the time, with parental consent. My mother is the youngest of three sisters and was born in 1928. The aunt in question was the oldest, but I'm not sure by how many years, probably 5-6, but was certainly born in the early 1920s, in Appalachian Tennessee. Even in that time and place a girl of 13 marrying a man of 27 was considered kind of creepy, but not criminal with consent. (They consented because both my aunt and uncle said they'd run away together if they didn't - that itself would be quite criminal now.) Had she been, say, 16 instead of 13 it wouldn't have even been considered very abnormal, and wouldn't have even raised an eyebrow had she been 16 and he, say, 23. My aunt and uncle remained married, apparently happily, for the rest of their lives. He lived well into his 90s and she into her upper 80s, dieing a few years ago.
The past is a different country. They do things differently there.
I doubt that anyone realised how much enthusiasm she would have for photography.
EDIT: I just saw this on the JMC Trust website: http://www.dimbola.co.uk/news/call-for-entries-26.aspx
His public personae was Lewis Carroll. This was his design and choice.