The Bronx Documentary Centre

Last week we visited the Bronx Documentary Centre, a non-profit gallery that aims to expose areas of unfairness and create positive social changes within the community. The exhibit that we viewed was called “Altered Images: 150 years of Posed and Manipulated Documentary Photography”. This exhibit is meant to incite conversation in people, discussing where the line should be drawn in terms of altering content in an image, to be used for photojournalistic purposes, and the controversy and misinformation it causes.

The set of images that I was drawn to the most were by Chris Arnade, a street photographer in the Bronx. He photographs a large number of prostitutes, either partially or entirely naked. Most of the subjects that he chooses to shoot are either under the influence of drugs, or simply not in the correct mental state to be giving consent to him using the photographs. His subjects also most likely do not understand the likes of Flickr or Instagram, platforms that he uses to share his images to millions of followers.

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These images often depict the women in degrading poses, sexualising and objectifyin
g them. This may not only demean and humiliate them, but also could be dangerous for potential, future employers that may choose to look these women up online. To read more about Chris Arnade’s inclusion in the BDC, click here.

The trip to the Bronx Documentary Centre was overall an incredibly edifying and eye-opening experience, as we learnt of the manipulation and misuse of many famous images, that we had previously assumed to be valid. We also understood how altering the content of an image in even the slightest of ways, could alter the tone/mood of an image significantly, changing the entire message that the image was sending. It was something I had not given a lot of thought to in the past, and has allowed me to look at photographs with a more critical, and less naïve eye.

– Carina Fischer

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