I was reading the Arts section in the Time magazine the other day and what really caught my attention was this article on a photographer and her subject.
Wish fulfillment is one of the prime purposes of pop culture, and magical transformations of the body are some of its most common manifestations. Weaklings morph into superheroes; the cripped ex-Marine in Avatar assumes a fleet-footed virtual body. Too bad the real world doesn't offer the same consolations. And it's the real world you see in Nida Berman's tender but unflinching photographs of Ty Ziegel, a former Marine sergeant so badly disfigured by a suicide bomb attack in Iraq that back home small children stare at him, even after 50 reconstructive surgrries. It would be obscene to aesthericize his situation, and Berman doesn't aim to. What she does is present it forthrightly, with compassion but without pathos- bravely, which is how he presents himself. We have to read a lot into Ziegel because his face sometimes seems to have a limited range of expression. Gently but firmly, Berman directs you to see the man behind the mask. Do these pictures belong in an art museum? Of course they do, because as long as one of the things art does is use images to teach, this is art.