Review by Melanie Light – Director Fotovision

Review by Melanie Light – Director Fotovision (www.fotovision.org)

” Connections Across a Human Planet is a great project and a pretty good book. I like it because I found myself softening and becoming more receptive than I usually am when I look at images about “issues” in the world. When viewing a project about one of the intractable challenges facing the globe I experience an involuntary tightening to steel myself against the inevitable tide of anger, frustration, pain or even despair over the degree of ineptitude of the human race to care for itself. The intention of this book is similar to that singular landmark exhibit, “The Family of Man” in 1955 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The idea for that show was to connect people around the globe after the terrible years of World War II. In those days, the notion of creating a common thread between people over thousands of miles of ocean was truly like connecting to creatures on Mars.
This book has the advantage of the Internet on its side. Not only was this book created in cyberspace, it was published in cyberspace. People in general have become more aware and directly in relation to others around the globe as we now have global citizenry, international chat rooms and myriad ways to connect. Crazily though, we still need projects like this to help us reach out to each with compassion. This book is about the small, universal moments of the human experience, whether that be an image of a herdsman leading his sheep through a busy street in Kolkata, India or an image of a pensive, young, hipster in the Harajuku district of Tokyo. Both are fully engaged in creating the best life they can within the confines of their very different realities. If each had a way to connect to the other, one wonders how their values or daily priorities might shift. But we, the readers, connect to these people (or at least an idea of them) and we can draw that thread between us together.
The photographers are sometimes indigenous to the country where the images are taken and some times they are global citizens, an Italian national living in the US but working in Brazil, for example. This is another great distinction between the social documentary photographers of the fifties, when The Family of Man was mounted. At that time, the field was dominated by the Americans and Europeans. Their voice, their national perspective was a filter for almost all the work of that era. Now, because excellent photographers have evolved to inhabit every quarter of the planet, each photograph embodies the message of that particular photographer. This book is a mixture of styles, b/w and color and images that stretch across decades. I am sure that academics or “purists” would object to this. But the title of the book really says it all – it is so important to reach out, overlook our differences and connect. In the end, though, it turns out that we all have the same desires and hopes.”

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