Philip Jones Griffiths, Anti-nuclear Demonstration,
New York, (1980),
black and white photograph
During his forty-year career - thirty of them with the prestigious co-op agency Magnum - Welsh photojournalist and humanist Philip Jones Griffiths covered events in more than 140 countries. More than one hundred of his striking photographs were selected by Curatorial Assistance, Los Angeles, for the circulating exhibition "Dark Odyssey".
This unforgettable body of images communicates Griffiths' awareness of the social and political forces that motivate war, famine and civil unrest as well as their consequences. His images appear to be populated with archetypes of good and evil: monsters and their victims, aggressive warriors and gentle villagers, or urban and environmental destruction and the people who must live in such conditions of tragedy. Yet his captions add a degree of compelling ambiguity, making his photographs more true to the ironies and entanglements of life itself than to dichotomies.
Jones Griffiths is adamant about photographic honesty and he prints with as little manipulation as possible. As he puts it, "The ability to cheat denies photography the one good thing it's got going for it: veracity." In a decade of image-processing software, sophisticated printing techniques and the impoverishment of high-art content, his dead-ahead photographs are startling in their frankness and immediacy.
© Mia Johnson