Mar 5, 2017 @ 16:27 CET


Dear Ivan,

I recognise the muteness you describe all too well… and I’m often not even traveling when it pops up. Yet either way, there’s not much else to do but wait until one arrives. I guess that’s meant to be the point. It drives me crazy, every time again.

Your image could literally be the other view of my image: the gaze of the audience, the seemingly all seeing eye that looks at us, unflinching, and we’ve nowhere to hide. We feel watched, and that changes our behaviour profoundly.

The audience might indeed be the key. They are the witnesses, the judges. They do the interpreting, they are the context, and without that context and interpretation the act itself becomes meaningless. A tree falling deep in the woods.

Yet the audience is not on the stage, and therefore the context and the judgment it imposes upon the act is by definition incomplete, shortsighted, relying solely on extrapolation of past experiences. They’d have to have switched places, like Damocles with his king Dionysius, to understand a context unimaginable before.

This act of bearing witness, especially to trauma, is something that touches me deeply. And in a way, photography could be considered exactly that: bearing witness. As in not only seeing, but more crucially: interpreting, and then representing.

But how can I possibly bear witness to a trauma that I haven’t experienced? How can I add my interpretation to this immense absence? Do I even have the right to do so?

The slingshot, the falling of Goliath, but also: two armies watching their protagonists fighting, both armies as an audience providing context, each side ready to surrender and accept a new reality based on the outcome before their eyes, mere seconds away. The fate of nations decided, the sword hanging by the hilt above their leaders from a single hair of a horse’s tail.

/// #image_by_image is an ongoing conversation between photographers Ivan Sigal and Anton Kusters@ivansigal and @antonkusters on Instagram ///