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Stranger's aesthetic photography

Posted September. 14, 2022 07:59,   

Updated September. 14, 2022 07:59


On the page immediately after the book cover is a phrase of tribute that says "this book is dedicated to all the underdogs and the vulnerable of the world," followed by a page looking somewhat dark and gloomy: a photo of birds flying over a concrete wall under construction.

To thoroughly understand why the photo feels dark and gloomy, you must embark on the book of an essay titled "Jeong Eun-jin's Struggle for Hope." The Israeli government built a massive separation barrier surrounding the West Bank. It even stretched to Bethlehem, where Jesus was born. Some parts of the wall cut deep into the Palestinian territory, forcing people there to take a long detour and pass through a checkpoint before they get to their own farmlands. Ironically, the barrier was built by Palestinian workers. They were not betraying their people but took the construction jobs because they had to put food on the table. And they finally built a concrete wall that is some 700 kilometers long and nine meters high. The wall made the West Bank a gigantic prison, which resembles Nazi concentration camps. The only difference is that the West Bank barrier is far more immense and permanent. You cannot but wonder what lessons were taught after years of historical suffering and ordeal.

Photojournalist Jeong Eun-jin who was taking pictures of the apartheid wall under construction inadvertently looked up and saw birds flying over the fences. She took their photos as the thought came to her mind that people cannot cross over the wall while birds can. It was a paradoxical moment when birds flying freely make you realize the reality of Palestinians left in a human rights blind spot.

Those photos would not be able to change anything in such reality, but still you just cannot look the other way. And that's exactly why world-class photojournalist Jeong looks for the most vulnerable people in the world, including Palestinians, and takes pictures of their pain and tears. That is also where the tribute phrase on the first page of her essay came from. That may be the warmest esthetic photography ever by a stranger.