The Horrors of a Change in Perspective

slaves_waiting_for_sale

What struck me about this article is the idea that Eyre Crowe took the ‘normal’ depiction of slaves/ the slave trade and “moved” it forward in time by a couple of minutes in his“Slaves Waiting for Sale”.  This small change created a scene unfamiliar to his audience which made it striking and for his British audience showed the horror of this practice.  This recalled our previous unit on refugees.  Especially with modern technology we are constantly bombarded with tragic, painful photos.  Often I think those photos are used to illicit a response, often to try and do what you can to get the situation changed for the people pictured in the photo.   However with crisis like the Syrian War that have gone on for so many years photos of bombed out towns, people running through the streets, and people being lifted from the rubble have dulled their potency, similarly to how showing the slaves during the bidding of the auction process or at the moment of sale had grown familiar and dull.  I wonder if showing other moments of the Syrian civilians’ life would galvanize a stronger reaction?  However, I wonder if there is anything to change that narrative, because in the 1860’s the camera was just coming into vogue and the people who viewed Crowe’s had not experienced the over saturation of visual images we experience today.  If actual slaves or former slaves had seen “Slaves Waiting for Sale”, I wonder what reaction they would have?  Did a white man far removed capture the moment for the people who had experienced first hand?Residents rescue a man after what activists said was shelling from forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar Al-Assad in Aleppo

Katelyn Kiner – Hope College – 2017

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