I read The Bang Bang Club by Greg Marinovich and Joao Silva in one sitting.
Before you’ve even hit the second page, you’re immersed, bullets singing past you, rusty bars and heavy knives jabbing as though into your own body, and the smell of petrol on flaming flesh.
The insanity of racial violence bought to you by way of ‘beach bum’
photographers and, dowsed with dollops of intimacy and history; girl
friends, mandrax and bhang parties, Reuter contracts, suicide and Afrikaner gunslinging racists
(itching for a full on battle to the death with black people). Out of
this chaos emerge images that win the pullizers, sell newspapers and
But the awe dies, you’ve realised, that in fact, bringing yourself to
within a hairsbreadth of death (yours or someone else’s), might not be
so heroic after all, its like voyeurism into lunacy, but once you’ve
seen it, an apathetic deadness sinks in, faith in life destroyed when
you see how much is now left to repair.
Apartheid has barely faded and the Rwandan genocide is coming alive and then Iraq and Iraq, and shit you know I’ve missed some….bang, bang, bang!
Take this question put to Guy Tillim:
PM: At the same time you admit to capturing the ‘worthy moment’, which
also points to all the countless moments of truth which go undocumented.
Are there any photographs you have taken, which beyond the notion of
looking for the photographic moment, have amounted to a visual lie?
and the answer:
GT: Yes, but I won’t tell you which ones! Perhaps in this context there are no lies, but then there is no truth either.
Then you look at Tillim’s images.
We only need half a brain to realise images lie (even quite as badly as say, the british media), and quite substantially more than a brain, bordering on superhuman abilities, to find the lie. If there is any judgment to be planted, perhaps it should be sown near the intentions of the ‘peddler’. In the case of the british media, the sentence? Life. In the case of Guy Tillim? The right to lie.