Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Gordon Parks

Reading through some of the material in the course has led me to look closer at the American Farmers Association, a group of photographers capturing images of social injustice from 1942-1944. I chose to look closer at Gordon Parks as his work tended to also group racial injustice alongside poverty and social justice. It would have been a time in America only 70 years ago that questions the segregation by race and restricted privileges.

Parks [b. 1912 Kansas] was himself born into poverty, this would have surely driven him to search for a better way, and what better than to translate his emotions and political views into documentary. His images are largely of African Americans, many show oppression and sadness but in contrast many show life in the face of adversity and the challenges of living in an America as a black person.

The following image was taken from an archive known as Fort Scott 1950. The use of light is fantastic, and the way in which the two people seem disconnected gives a slight juxtaposition, perhaps with the woman wanting something better with her life.

Gordon Parks - Tenement Dwellers, Chicago 1950

The second image taken from the FSA series just warms me. This is one of Park's more famous images for obvious reasons, one of the lighter ones.

Gordon Parks - Woman & Dog in Window, Harlem New York 1943

I found Park's best work though was Segregation Story 1956. A brilliant collection recording in true documentary fashion what it must have been like for Black Americans during this awful time of being classified as a different human being. It is truly work like this that opens doors and opens minds increasing awareness of social injustice to a level that forces change for the good of mankind. Documentary has a lot to live up to and a tremendous role to play in our society as we strive to improve living standards and share more of what we have.

Gordon Parks - Department Store Alabama 1956 

Gordon Parks -  Segregated Drinking Fountain, Alabama 1956

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