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David Von Drehle

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David Von Drehle

In February, Justin Maxon, a photographer and Northern California native, spent several days and nights on Chicago’s South Side for TIME, trying to make fresh images that convey the sadly familiar fact of gun violence in the great but troubled city.

There is a fire, an intensity, to Maxon’s work that may partly be the end result of a journalist in his 20s seeing a story with fresh eyes. But even more, it is a measure of his honest desire to go past the surface of a picture to the complicated humanity that lies at the core of all conflict. These are real people, and left behind are real survivors wrestling with grief, guilt, and anger.

“What I witnessed and gathered from the stories of people living in the South Side is that their community is about survival,” Maxon tells TIME. “With that dynamic comes fight. Violence is built into the structure of survival.”

Maxon questioned how to best represent the complex issues facing the community, revealing just how critical it is to show the nuances when covering an environment saddled by intense transformation. Too often, reports of urban violence begin and end with data: name, age, street address — and how many murders does that make for this year? Maxon’s pictures are the opposite, pulling viewers from the grim facts toward the search for meaning.

“These are communities of strength and hope,” Maxon says. “Where people come together to grieve but to also encourage and inspire. I obviously had to illustrate the story of violence, but I was most interested in searching for how the community was trying to critically engage with the issue in an adaptive and positive way.”

Click here to read editor-at-large David Von Drehle’s full magazine story on Chicago and Mayor Rahm Emanuel available exclusively for TIME subscribers.

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Justin Maxon is a Northern California native whose recent work When the Spirit Moves (featured on LightBox June 10, 2011) documents Chester, Pennsylvania—a community facing upwards of 300 unsolved murder cases since the mid-nineties.

David Von Drehle is an editor-at-large for TIME, where he has covered politics, breaking news and the Supreme Court since 2007. He is the author of four books, including Abraham Lincoln and America’s Most Perilous Year, published in 2012, and Triangle: The Fire That Changed America

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TIME Photo Department

Many powerful photographs have been made in the aftermath of the devastating collapse of a garment factory on the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh. But one photo, by Bangladeshi photographer Taslima Akhter, has emerged as the most heart wrenching, capturing an entire country’s grief in a single image.

Shahidul Alam, Bangladeshi photographer, writer and founder of Pathshala, the South Asian Institute of Photography, said of the photo: “This image, while deeply disturbing, is also hauntingly beautiful. An embrace in death, its tenderness rises above the rubble to touch us where we are most vulnerable. By making it personal, it refuses to let go. This is a photograph that will torment us in our dreams. Quietly it tells us. Never again.”

Akhter writes for LightBox about the photograph, which appears in this week’s TIME International alongside an essay by David Von Drehle.

I have been asked many questions about the photograph of the couple embracing in the aftermath of the collapse. I have tried desperately, but have yet to find any clues about them. I don’t know who they are or what their relationship is with each other.

I spent the entire day the building collapsed on the scene, watching as injured garment workers were being rescued from the rubble. I remember the frightened eyes of relatives — I was exhausted both mentally and physically. Around 2 a.m., I found a couple embracing each other in the rubble. The lower parts of their bodies were buried under the concrete. The blood from the eyes of the man ran like a tear. When I saw the couple, I couldn’t believe it. I felt like I knew them — they felt very close to me. I looked at who they were in their last moments as they stood together and tried to save each other — to save their beloved lives.

Every time I look back to this photo, I feel uncomfortable — it haunts me. It’s as if they are saying to me, we are not a number — not only cheap labor and cheap lives. We are human beings like you. Our life is precious like yours, and our dreams are precious too.

They are witnesses in this cruel history of workers being killed. The death toll is now more than 750. What a harsh situation we are in, where human beings are treated only as numbers.

This photo is haunting me all the time. If the people responsible don’t receive the highest level of punishment, we will see this type of tragedy again. There will be no relief from these horrific feelings. I’ve felt a tremendous pressure and pain over the past two weeks surrounded by dead bodies. As a witness to this cruelty, I feel the urge to share this pain with everyone. That’s why I want this photo to be seen.

Taslima Akhter is a Bangladeshi photographer and activist.

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David Von Drehle

In its heyday, horse racing had it all. It was the speed and danger sport before NASCAR came along; movie stars and gangsters rubbed glamorous elbows; and a couple sawbucks on a winning long-shot could put you on Easy Street.

As with all nostalgia, the reality could never match the legend. But there was a current of excitement and passion around horse racing back in the days of fedoras and two-toned shoes. Perhaps the popularity of racing was as simple as the fact that Americans used to grow up around horses and knew them as personalities.

(MORE: Twilight at the Track)

And they are personalities. Some are born with loads of talent, but won’t do the hard work to become a champion. Some love a challenge, and won’t stop working until they win. Some are playful; some are mean. Some are smart; some aren’t. Such traits seared the names of great racers into the public consciousness as deeply as the names of some presidents and some billionaires: Gallant Fox, War Admiral, Citation, Seabiscuit.

The glory days endured through a golden age of racing in the 1970s, when Affirmed battled Alydar to join Seattle Slew and the incomparable Secretariat as winners of the Triple Crown. Since then, a long twilight has settled over the Sport of Kings. Attendance, wagers, purses, and new foals all are in decline. Such storied tracks as Hialeah in Florida, Bay Meadows in California, and Garden State in New Jersey have padlocked their stables and turned out the lights for good.

The causes are many. Competition for the gambling and entertainment dollar is more intense than ever. But even more damaging is the widespread culture of doping in the racing business, and the high rate of fatal breakdowns that goes with it. As these photographs make clear, amid the fading memories of glamor and excitement, the beating heart of the sport is, and always will be, the horse. Whoever wants to save racing must first care about that.

Jehad Nga is a photographer who lives in New York. LightBox previously featured Nga’s Memories of Libya and his Green Book project

David Von Drehle is an editor-at-large for TIME, where he has covered politics, breaking news and the Supreme Court since 2007. He is the author of four books, including Abraham Lincoln and America’s Most Perilous Year, published in 2012, and Triangle: The Fire That Changed America.

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