Martha Rosler
[Artist, b. 1943, Brooklyn, New York, lives in New York.]

 Documentary testifies, finally, to the bravery or (dare we name it?) the manipulativeness and savvy of the photographer, who entered a situation of physical danger, social restrictedness, human decay, or combinations of these and saved us the trouble. 
 Women war photographers had to fight on two fronts: the bombs, and the men. 
 Documentary photography has been much more comfortable in the company of moralism than wedded to a rhetoric or programme of revolutionary politics. 
 How useful are documentary photographs if there is no follow up, no way of knowing what happened next in the story? 
 I’ve written about documentaries as a dead form. But without some reference to the real, there’s no place of departure. 
 It’s interesting that although the broader culture does still have room for documentary, it is becoming less transparent, less matter of advocacy, and more sensationalized or surrealistic, a kind of masquerade. I find that students have little interest in the concept of documentary as a moment of revelation in which real social relations are pictured; that’s totally flattened for them. They see the world as being made up of a vast sameness of interactions, basically rooted in the cash nexus. 
 If material conditions need to be redescribed, more painstakingly and in novel forms, in order to be reinvested with “believability,” then we can surely develop the form—and the means of dissemination—to do so. 
 Although there is nothing unprejudiced about any representation, in the modern era, attempts at a necessarily false objectivity in relation to meaning have periodically been made… Photography, dressed as science, has eased the path of this feigned innocence, for only photography might be taken as directly impressed by, literally formed by, its source. 
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