Dorothea Lange – ‘The Radical Eye’

The photographs by Dorothea Lange from the Sir Elton John Collection at the Tate Modern London ‘The Radical Eye’

Dorothea Lange Sir Elton John Tate Modern – an interesting perspective on the joys and plights of migrants

With no dialogue to help us we are invited to ponder and mull on the condition, circumstances and disposition of the subjects, the human beings, before us.

Here are real live images of destitution, of people in despair, of the subjects not being in collusion (presumably) with the photographer and hence in control of the final picture.

In ‘Migrant Mother’ we see what we must accept (or maybe not!) is a photograph of a real person and her family in a dire state.

Sir Elton John Photography Collection Dorothea Lange Sir Elton John Tate Modern
Migrant Mother Lange

We can ask ourselves: ‘where is the father? has he abandoned them? is he seeking work somewhere?

We don’t know of course, but the questions are paramount.

Then, on a deeper scale – ( Dorothea Lange Sir Elton John Tate Modern )

‘what was the condition of women at the time for instance pre-contraception, pre-women’s rights?’ ‘easy targets for abuse?’  ‘left looking after the family’ ‘personal rights and independence left far behind?’

What questions rise up in our minds?

Such depends of course on our individual point of view, our values, our own history and circumstances: mulling on such images can get us to consider our own perspectives on such human conditions.

So hence how to interpret and read the ‘Damaged Child’? In her state what future as a female can she look forward to in those times and even today?

Dorothea Lange Sir Elton John Tate Modern
Damaged Child Dorothea Lange

The power of the photograph to, as the Tate guide states, ‘manipulate creatively’, ‘elicit empathy with artistic and ethical complexity’. The power of propaganda. Again to quote the Tate guide: Laszlo Moholy-Nagy stating photography could radically change not just what, but HOW we see’.

So photography as simple snap shot technical recordings; games; collusion between sitter and photographer to project the subject’s ego persona, through to inviting us to ask deep and fundamental questions about the joy and plight of human-kind.

Dorothea Lange stood far and above the rest of the images solely making the exhibition worth the visit.

Dorothea Lange Sir Elton John Photography Collection Tate Modern until 21 May 2017