It is a reality of the late twentieth century that we are all witness to crisis. There is no escape from the bombardment of imagery and language telling us of the agony of others that reaches the free-reading Western world. The journalists and photojournalists who are messengers of these grim truths uphold two prevalent.
A thing of beauty is not a joy forever. That is the major problem that confronts viewers of Sebastião Salgado's extraordinary photographs of famine in the Sahel. Here in this issue of Aperture are photographs, beautiful many of them, of the utter despair and degradation in which a vast part of humanity lives.
Susan Meiselas: The Frailty of the Frame, Work in Progress
Susan Meiselas went to photograph for five weeks in the Philippines in 1985—86 and stayed for five months. During that time Cory Aquino took power and Ferdinand Marcos fled the country. Since 1978, when she first went to cover the incipient Sandinista revolution, Meiselas has been primarily photographing in Central America, particularly Nicaragua.
Embedded in the bricks, mud, stone, steel, and concrete of all the structures in South Africa are choices we and our forebears have taken. No building, road, monument, township, resettlement camp, dorp, or city can be, but for the choices that gave it rise and others that are a condition of its continued existence.
Few international meetings on Soviet territory can have been so informally prepared, but something new had happened some eleven months before in a meeting of American and Soviet writers in Vilnius, Lithuania, that made this inevitable.
Men's Lives: The Surfmen and Baymen of the South Fork. Text by Peter Matthiessen, with historical and contemporary photographs. Published by Random House, New York, 1986 ($29.95). A two-volume deluxe edition was privately published by the Rock Foundation, 1986.
It has been just over fifty years since Life magazine sold out all of its first 466,000 copies and the era of big picture magazines commenced in this country. Since then we have lingered in the shadow of Life, bemoaning its absence long after its demise, evoking the magazine's aura by recycling its imagery in periodic shows and books celebrating legendary Life photographers.
DAVID GOLDBLATT lives in Johannesburg. His books include Some Afrikaners Photographed and In Boksburg. His work was published in the Carnegie project The Cordoned Heart. He has collaborated with Nadine Gordimer on their book On the Mines and most recently on Lifetimes: Under Apartheid (1986).
Photographs on cover and on pp. 2—31 by Sebastiào Salgado, courtesy of the photographer and with permission of Magnum Photos Inc. P. 32, reproduced article courtesy of the New York Times Company, reprinted with permission. Pp. 33—40 photographs by Susan Meiselas, courtesy of the photographer and with permission of Magnum Photos Inc.