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Basic Critical Theory for Photographers by Ashley la Grange

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6 Abigail Solomon-Godeau, Inside/Out

This is a summary of the essay as it appeared in Public Information Desire, Disaster, Document (SFMOMA 1994).

Solomon-Godeau sees Sontag’s On Photography as critical of photography’s colonisation of the world and points out that Sontag found that there were certain approaches to photography, in particular, that objectified people. These approaches prevented the viewer having empathy with the subject and Arbus’s work was typical of this. Arbus photographed deviants (social, physical and those that looked deviant) in a way that prevented compassionate involvement. As a result, Sontag sees her as a morbid voyeur.

Sontag feels that for Arbus the camera removes ‘. . . moral boundaries and social inhibitions, freeing ...

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