Monday, 20 October 2014

'Falling Soldier' - Robert Capa

“If your pictures aren't good enough, you aren't close enough.” Robert Capa, Hungarian war photographer and co-founder of Magnum Photos agency. 

'Falling Soldier'. Death of anarchist militiaman Federico Borrell García, Córdoba front, Spain. (©copy Robert Capa/International Center of Photography/Magnum)

'Falling Soldier' is a famous photograph from the Spanish ‘Civil War’. Taken in September 1936 by 23 year-old Robert Capa at Haza del Reloj, Mirror in Andalusia, it has led to a rise in tourism there. Capa was in a trench with soldiers attacking a machine gun post. Researchers now visit the immortalized spot where the soldier was shot. Projects have begun to signal the landscape, recover trenches used during the war and provide a tourist route and interpretation centres on Capa's work. Lectures and exhibitions seek to further raise interest levels. The Mayor of Mirror has initiated discussions with the Junta de Andalucía to request the declaration of Interest Cultural: he has asked the regional administration to designate the rural enclave a Place of Historical Memory. "It is recovery of memory in a democratic space and tourism development," the Mayor said.

'Falling Soldier was probably the best picture I ever took. I never saw the picture in the frame because the camera was far above my head', Capa said on the NBC radio show 'Hi Jinx' in 1947. 

After Spain, Capa documented the Second Sino-Japanese War, World War II across Europe, the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and the First Indochina War. His images from the Battle of Normandy on Omaha Beach in 1944 are renowned.

Between war assignments he captured Parisian street life, leaving a body of work in colour: many shots were of models and celebrities. His personal life was colourful, as he swept from blood at work to champagne at play.

He was killed in May 1954 when he stepped on a landmine covering the war in South-East Asia.

'Certainly it’s difficult to imagine the Spanish civil war without RobertCapa’s “Falling Soldier” photo or Vietnam without Nick Ut’s shot of the naked, terrifiedgirl fleeing a napalm attack, the picture by Eddie Adams of the SouthVietnamese police chief killing a Viet Cong suspect or Malcolm Browne’s imageof the self-immolating Buddhist monk. Those pictures are disturbing. But theynow define those wars – and they do so through their horror, with the sufferingthey portray linked to the conflicts in which it occurred. Do we need to seemore of the bloodshed of our era? Is our media too sanitized, too reluctant toshow us the awful things we do to each other? If we witnessed more of the goretastefully omitted from the evening news, would we work harder to bringviolence to an end?' Jeff Sparrow, writing in the Guardian. 

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