Photo Journalism and the War on Drugs in Mexico: Taking Pictures of the Dead
Observatory (543 Union St., Brooklyn)
Since the beginning of the war between the Mexican Armed Forces and Federal Police and the country’s drug cartels in 2006, more than 50,000 people have lost their lives. In this context, many of the country’s major newspapers decided to limit their coverage of drug related executions, arguing that this would palliate the terror that the drug cartels are trying to create among society. But images and videos of these crimes have proliferated in the Internet, distributed by citizens who believe this information should be known, but also by opportunistic sources and even the cartels themselves.
Crime-scene photographs are as old as photojournalism itself. Their shock value makes them a perfect fit for tabloids and newspapers interested in sensationalist stories, and they have been a staple of what in Mexico is called la nota roja (“red news”). But crime-scene photographs are also produced in our society for useful reasons, and even aesthetic ones: they are a key element in forensic investigations, and some photographers have incorporated them into their oeuvre. The tension between ethics, aesthetics, journalism and shock in crime-scene photographs will be explored in this lecture by Salvador Olguin.
Note: Some of the images presented in this lecture may be too disturbing for some people. Discretion is advised.