Images That Hurt Too MuchPosted: March 19, 2015
This morning on the photography site PetaPixel, I learned about a online collection called THTK (short for Too Hard to Keep), curated by Jason Lazarus, an adjunct professor at the School of the Art Institute, Chicago.
The story link is here, but a caution: Although most of it is not graphic, the material is definitely disturbing.
Lazarus collects images that people can’t bear to live with anymore. In some the pain is obvious — a building falling to the wrecking ball, a family at the bedside of a desperately ill relative. Others disturb by implication — scenes of cluttered, chaotic rooms hinting at some offstage crisis.
Why do we take photos, why do we keep them?
Maybe some images should never be made at all. (Personally I will never think it’s a good idea to photograph an open coffin at a wake. I don’t care if the Victorians did it. I bet some Victorians didn’t like it, either.)
Yet even as I write that, I realize that painful images can be an act of bearing witness, fulfilling important human and historical needs. And even ostensibly happy images hold potential pain as life unfolds.
But what do you think? Have you ever possessed a photo that harmed your peace of mind? And should it be kept, or destroyed, or passed on to someone else?