In a few decades, how would we look back at this time? A time which we had never foreseen. What will there be written about in history books? And which photographs most capture the essence of the emotions we are collectively going through? Often when we look back at a certain time, we can see these images very clearly. They are the living memory in our heads – connecting us; with which we can continuously engage with history, how it evolves, and the meaning of a particular moment in time that becomes the epiphany of the unexpected.
The Magnum Square Print Sale presents a wide range of photographs that convey the unexpected. Some have a mythological epicness, almost heroic, like Stuart Franklin’s Tank Man, 1989, which captures the single action of an unarmed man against the tanks of China’s communist regime on Tiananmen Square, or Susan Meiselas’, Molotov Man, 1979, when a photograph becomes a national symbol of the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua.
Other images have a quiet presence and emotional charge like Paul Fusco’s, RFK Funeral Train, 1968, which captures a nation in mourning and shows us a varied and rich portrait of the many faces of America, that surpasses background, religion, and wealth. Some are extraordinary in the way they are ordinary, like Ian Berry’s, Ras al-Hadd near Sur, from Oman, 2004, capturing children playing with kites made from plastic shopping bags, or Lary Towell’s, Mennonites in the Cuauhtémoc Colonies, from Mexico, 1992, showing a Mennonite man kissing his wife. In photographer Patrick Zachmann’s words: “The most interesting pictures are often found, not at the heart of the event but on the periphery.”