Richard Misrach
[Photographer, b. 1949, Los Angeles, lives in San Francisco.]

 To me, the work I do is a means of interpreting unsettling truths, of bearing witness, and of sounding an alarm. The beauty of formal representation both carries an affirmation of life and subversively brings us face to face with news from our besieged world. 
 Probably the strongest criticism leveled at my work is that I’m making “poetry of the holocaust.” But I’ve come to believe that beauty can be a very powerful conveyor of difficult ideas. It engages people when they might otherwise look away. 
 ... despite the limitations and problems inherent to photographic representation (and especially the representation of politics), it remains for me the most powerful and engaging medium today—one central to the development of cultural dialogue. 
 Perhaps the real impulse that eventually translated into picturing things comes from my father’s wild enthusiasm for everything observed: “That’s the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen,” “That is the most beautiful tree I have ever seen,” and so forth. I nicknamed him hyperbolic Bob. 
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