Photographs So Vivid It Aches: The Work of Luc Delahaye

I love it when you go somewhere, expecting to see one thing and find something else simply incredible. That is what happened to me last week. Fascinated by all aspects of cultural exchange, I went to the Getty Museum in Los Angeles to check out an exhibition titled "China on Paper." This exhibition demonstrated through various documents, prints and drawings the exchange between China and Europe starting in the late sixteenth century. There were interesting images of European villas and pavilions designed with a Chinese twist for the emperor of China. This collection of work demonstrated for me very well how long ago globalization really started.

Since I was already at the Getty, I decided to take in a few of the other exhibitions. Fortunately I wandered into the room housing the work of photojournalist extraordinaire (or now "artist" as he would like to be called) Luc Delahaye. The exhibition was called "Recent History: Photographs by Luc Delahaye." A handful of his photographs were on display covering the wars in Lebanon, Afghanistan, Rwanda, Chechnya and Bosnia. Each of these images spanned the entire of wall on which they hung. Each image capturing a quiet but horrific moment in recent history. They were powerful in their subtlety and profoundly moving. Beauty in despair.

Luc Delahaye born in France in 1962 and became a photojournalist in his early twenties. In the 1990s he was recognized for his coverage of the wars in Lebanon, Afghanistan, Rwanda, Chechnya and Bosnia. A member of the Magnum agency from 1994 to 2004, he worked either independently or was commissioned by Western news magazines such as Newsweek. Since then he has won numerous awards globally for his work.

Unlike the often sensationalized sound byte that we get on the evening news, he attempts to present these raw human stories from a different perspective than that seen in the media. While many of these news worthy events are familiar to most people, Delahaye's focus is on the ordinary or mundane within these events. [If there is such a thing in many of these locations.] Near life size, these images draws the viewer in, leaving the viewer struggling to grasp and fully comprehend the sight before them.

[I apologize that these miniaturized images do not convey at all the impact of the actual pictures.]

132nd Ordinary Meeting of the Conference
September 15, 2004. The 132nd meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) Conference at its Vienna Headquarters.
[© Luc Delahaye]

A Mass Grave near Snagovo, Bosnia
November 16, 2006. A team of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) at work at site #SNAO4ZVO

[© Luc Delahaye]

Jenin Refugee Camp
April 14, 2002. The Jenin refugee camp, in the West Bank, after the battle between Palestinian militants and the Israeli Army.
[© Luc Delahaye]

The Registration of Internally Displaced People in Eastern Chad
May 27, 2006. Near the Chadian village of Koubigou, close to the Sudanese border; the registration of internally displaced people for the distribution of non-food items.
[© Luc Delahaye

The following are links to interviews with Luc Delahaye.

"A Conversation with Luc Delahaye" by , Pop Photo (June 12, 2007).
"The Big Picture" by Peter Lennon, Guardian (January 31, 2004).

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