Magnum Photos: States of Conflict examines some of the watershed moments of civic transformation over the last 40 years. Since 1948, Magnum photographers have been depicting conflict around the world, and the collective’s force reflects photography’s enduring power as a tool for change. The images in this exhibition reveal the intrepid persistence and unique personal vision of their makers.
Bruno Barbey, a Frenchman born in Morocco, captured the turbulence of the May 1968 student protests and general strikes in Paris that led to the collapse of French president Charles de Gaulle’s government. Barbey photographed the riots, occupations and street battles to communicate the urgency of this seminal point in time.
In 1979, American photographer Susan Meiselas documented the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua. Twenty-five years later, she returned to the region with murals of images she made during the insurrection and installed them in the public spaces where the photographs were originally taken. Meiselas’ photographs capture the sites of collective remembrance she created in her project Reframing History.
Twenty years after Beijing's Tiananmen Square protests in 1989, Englishman Stuart Franklin’s iconic images are symbols of defiance and aggression. Franklin’s celebrated photograph of the infamous man standing before advancing tanks is among the world’s most recognizable photographs. His images encapsulate the magnitude of an insurrection that shocked the world.
Canada’s Larry Towell shows black-and-white photographs that depict anger and fear, aggression and assault. Reminiscent of his images of conflict in the West Bank, these images were captured while dodging hurtling rocks and flying tear gas canisters. Perhaps surprisingly, they portray the police and RCMP riot police confronting demonstrators opposed to the expansion of the North American Free Trade Agreement in Quebec City, 2001.
Originally from Germany, Thomas Dworzak has documented the conflict in Chechnya, the crisis in Kosovo, the war in Macedonia and the revolutions in the former Soviet republics of Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine, among many other tragic events. Unified by Dworzak’s finely tuned sense of colour, his photographs captured around the world possess an overwhelming ability to illuminate humanity in states of conflict.
As an extension of the focus on conflict through still images, a series of short documentary films by Magnum in Motion – from photographers' behind-the- scenes, first-hand accounts to thematic essays – further convey the global experiences of the agency’s members. Reflecting complex histories, all of the images in this exhibition inform the way we see our evolving world.
Thomas Dworzak's work is presented in association with the Goethe-Institut Toronto.