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Our Public-Eye Intellectual

Whether she was addressing aesthetics or war, science fiction or Sarajevo, Susan Sontag brought a new way of seeing—and, in the case of photography, a new way of being seen.


(Photo credit: The Estate of Peter Hujar, Courtesy of Matthew Marks/Frankel Galleries)

The ultimate wisdom of the photographic image is to say: ‘There is the surface. Now think—or rather feel, intuit—what is beyond it, what the reality must be like if it looks this way.’ Photographs, which cannot themselves explain anything, are inexhaustible invitations to deduction, speculation, and fantasy. Photography implies that we know about the world if we accept it as the camera records it. But this is the opposite of understanding, which starts from not accepting the world as it looks.”
—Susan Sontag, from On Photography


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