In Human Documents, Robert Gardner introduces the work of photographers with whom he has worked over a period of nearly fifty years under the auspices of the Film Study Center at Harvard. Their images achieve the status of what Gardner calls “human documents”: visual evidence that testifies to our shared humanity. In images and words, the book adds to the already significant literature on photography and filmmaking as ways to gather both fact and insight into the human condition. In nearly 100 images spanning geographies and cultures including India, New Guinea, Ethiopia, and the United States, Human Documents demonstrates the important role photography can play in furthering our understanding of human nature and connecting people through an almost universal visual language.
Author and cultural critic Eliot Weinberger contributes the essay “Photography and Anthropology (A Contact Sheet),” in which he provides a new and intriguing context for viewing and thinking about the images presented here.
With photographs by Michael Rockefeller, Robert Gardner, Kevin Bubriski, Adelaide de Menil, Christopher James, Jane Tuckerman, Susan Meiselas, and Alex Webb.
These extraordinary photographs, from the eyes of eight very different photographers, remind us of the humanising role of photography. The images work at the blurred boundaries between anthropology and photographic practices as both attempt to translate different experiences of the world from one space to another. The photographers represented here are acutely aware of this challenge, and their images go back to the classic roots of the medium at its most powerful.
Human Documents is a book of stunning photographs which collectively show that visual art is more than merely illustrative.
Some scholars are remembered as having been pioneers in their fields. In the case of Robert Gardner, an entire academic discipline, visual anthropology, came into being simply to formalize what he was already doing. For more than fifty years he has been an inspiration as an author, photographer, filmmaker, and teacher. Human Documents is a beautiful and profound book, as significant as any to appear since Susan Sontag's On Photography.
In nearly 100 images spanning geographies and cultures including India, Ethiopia, and the United States, Human Documents demonstrates the important role photography can play in still furthering our understanding of human nature and connecting people through an almost universal visual language.
- 128 pages
- 0-3/4 inches
- Peabody Museum Press
- Photographs by Michael Rockefeller, Adelaide de Menil, Kevin Bubriski, Christopher James, Jane Tuckerman, Susan Meiselas, and Alex Webb
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