Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Family of Man

Review by David Karp

        I believe that the title says it all about what this amazing collection of photographs is about. The Family of Man. One must ask, what does that mean? Well, once you go through the book, you find out. The family of man is the family of the world.
            The book, originally an exhibit in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC put together by Edward Steichen,  explores people that we see every day in America throughout time and then, we also travel the world to various different countries to see the everyday men and women of that particular country. We see how people live and express their emotions to one another.
            This collection’s aim, I believe, is to knock down borders and show that we, as in everyone in the world, are all a family. We are all citizens of the earth, and we are all human, so why are we blowing each other up and acting like someone different is an enemy? I’ve seen this all too often in my life, and it doesn’t make much sense to me.
            I’ll start here: The picture that struck me the most was on page 70 of the man who is on the steel part being hoisted up in the sky, probably trying to get that onto a larger structure that was soon to be a building. The reason why I liked this picture so much? It reminded me of home.
            I grew up in New Jersey. I know, a lot of people believe that New Jersey is basically what you see on Jersey Shore or The Real Housewives of New Jersey or other stupid reality shows like that. Believe me, we are not all like that! In fact, though I am from suburban North Jersey, I grew up around a lot of working class people! There were a lot of blue-collar workers around my home that I got to know, and they all seemed to have some sort of brotherly/sisterly bond to each other that I really admired. They seemed the most realistic, yet the most loving. I remember when I was younger and I would always be fascinated with the people who were high up building buildings or fixing stuff, whether it was somewhere in Jersey or just across the river in New York City. But I was always fascinated by them. Hell, I still am! I believe that’s what the picture I mentioned reminds me so much of home…because of the people around me that considered each other family.
            Not only does the collection showcase the various kinds of people in the world, but it also showcases the different types of human emotion, which is why I believe these photos were picked to be in the book: the emotion is at the rawest form and brings the “reader” to the emotion itself. It lets us know how human we are and lets us connect with the different people in the book, and we ask the question: How different are we really if I feel what she/he is feeling in this picture. We feel love, fear, anger, hope, uncertainty, and more and we relate to the people in the photos even if we don’t know them! It doesn’t get much more human than that! It just proves that we all have the ability to help and relate to each other, so why is the state of the world the way it is today? That’s a question that I don’t believe anyone can fully answer. It’s just the absurdity of life.
            So, all and all, I really enjoyed taking a look at this collection and the having the questions it brought to me posed. It really does make you think about life and love and why we can’t just all realize how silly it is to be so angry with each other.
Still, with all the questions it poses, in the long run, The Family Of Man really made me feel at home, and this past weekend, I realized how happy I am to have any type of family and that sometimes, we have to make our own family and learn to know how lucky we are to just have hope. And yes, I believe there is some hope left in this world. I may be pessimistic at times, but deep down, I still have some hope. The Family of Man is another example. It’s a family album, just of the bigger family you may have not realized we had. We are all in this together, and we are just another photo in the family of man.
This may not be a “book” book, as there are not that many words to read, but the pictures are its own kind of story and the quotes in the book speak as loudly as a million words. I truly believe that this collection is worth a look for those who love history, culture, literature, and photography!

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