Allan Sekula
[Photographer, writer, and theorist, b. 1951, Erie, Pennsylvania, d. 2013, Los Angeles.]

 The only “objective” truth that photographs offer is the assertion that somebody or something... was somewhere and took a picture. Everything else, everything beyond the imprinting of a trace, is up for grabs. 
 Photographic meaning is always a hybrid construction, the outcome of an interplay of iconic, graphic, and narrative conventions. 
 Is it possible to discuss photography as a medium separate from the thing being photographed? 
 Photography is haunted by two chattering ghosts: that of bourgeois science and that of bourgeois art. The first goes on about the truth of appearances, about the world reduced to a positive ensemble of facts, to a constellation of knowable and possessable objects. The second specter offers us a reconstructed subject in the luminous person of the artist. 
 ...the hidden imperatives of photographic culture drag us in two contradictory directions: “science” and a myth of “objective truth” on the one hand, and toward “art” and a cult of “subjective experience” on the other. This dualism haunts photography, lending a certain goofy inconsistency to the most commonplace assertions about the medium. 
 How does photography serve to legitimate and normalize existing power relationships? ... How is historical and social memory preserved, transformed, restricted and obliterated by photographs? 
 Black-and-white photos tell the truth. That’s why insurance companies use them. 
 All photography that even approaches the status of high art contains the mystical possibility of genius. The representation drops away and only the valorized figure of the artist remains. 
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