Une Question de Perspective(s)

by dave

« “Let’s Talk About Race” is a powerful photo essay published in the latest issue of O, The Oprah Magazine that challenges the ways we view race in a masterful way.

The magazine’s editor-in-chief Lucy Kaylin, who oversaw all production of the publication’s “Race Issue,” commissioned photographer Chris Buck to help bring Oprah’s vision for the feature to life. Each of the three photos in the essay shows women or girls of color in a role reversal from the ways in which they are stereotypically seen ― or not seen ― compared to white women or girls.

One image shows several East Asian women at a nail salon being pampered by white female beauticians. Another shows a young white girl at a toy store standing before a row of shelves stocked only with black dolls, and the last image shows a posh Hispanic woman on the phone as her white maid tends to her.

“The story grew out of a big ideas meeting we had with Oprah; it was a topic on all of our minds and she was eager for us to tackle it,” Kaylin said in a statement to HuffPost. “The main thing we wanted to do was deal with the elephant in the room — that race is a thorny issue in our culture, and tensions are on the rise. So let’s do our part to get an honest, compassionate conversation going, in which people feel heard and we all learn something — especially how we can all do better and move forward. Boldly, with open hearts and minds.”

The pictures are indeed eye-opening, and force us to reexamine damaging stereotypes and explore how race, class and power can intersect. (The terms “Hispanic” and “Latino” refer to ethnicity, and those of Latin American heritage can belong to any race.) The opposing realities captured in the images also call into question the ways in which women of color are often portrayed.

Buck, who has worked with Kaylin and her team before, said producing the photos for the magazine felt entirely fitting because he sees Oprah as one of the best people to explore and talk about race ― and to prompt others to do the same.

“The fact that they’re coming from O, The Oprah Magazine was part of the real allure for me,” he told HuffPost. “Oprah is someone who both white women and black women connect and relate to and she’s in a unique place to talk about race in this country because she has a strong and loyal audience among all demographics of women.”

“I knew that there was a vision to raise questions [about race] without being heavy-handed or mean-spirited,” he added. “That’s the way in which I approached the execution and helped them to create the images.”

However, Buck, who is a white man, acknowledged that producing the photos led him to interrogate his own relationship with race, and that the images can mean many things to many people. But he says the photos, at their core, serve as means to help spark a healthy discussion around race and the ways we perceive it.

“For white people like me, we need to understand just because we’re talking about race doesn’t mean fingers are being pointed at us,” he said. “To me what’s great is that it’s made conversation. I want people of color and white people to be able to have a dialogue. I don’t want white people to feel like they’re being talked at or black people to feel like they’re being shut down either.”

“All parties need to feel welcome at the table in this discussion,” he added, “that’s how we move forward and to me, at their best, that’s what these pictures can do.” »

These Profound Photos Masterfully Turn Racial Stereotypes On Their Head

A powerful new photo essay reexamines our relationship with race.

By Lilly Workneh

Le spectacle a reçu 3 prix au Chili :
Meilleur spectacle et de la Meilleure actrice 2018 (par Círculo de Críticos de Arte de Chile) et le prix du public pour la Meilleure mise en scène, (Premios Clap).

« The Real Story Behind the O Pics that Have Been All Over Your Feed

FLARE spoke to the portrait photographer Chris Buck about the O, The Oprah Magazine photo essay that’s sparking intense conversations about racial stereotypes

By Jennifer Berry

If a picture is worth a thousand words, the word count around the “Let’s Talk About Race” photo essay in O, The Oprah Magazine’s May 2017 issue—a series that has incited much-needed conversations about race, power and class—must be too enormous to tally.

The series, photographed by Toronto-raised, New York-based portrait photographer Chris Buck, shows three thought-provoking role reversals between women of colour and white women in positions stereotypically held in North America by either group. In the first photograph, a group of Asian women sit in pedicure chairs at a nail salon while white women tend quietly to their feet, while in another image, a young white girl stands in a toy store in front of a wall of only black dolls. In the final photo, a young Latina woman is seated in a plush chair in a lavish apartment holding a lapdog, talking on the phone and ignoring a white maid pouring her a cup of tea.

The pictures have sparked countless conversations on Twitter, predominantly of people applauding the magazine for the trope-challenging images.

Flipped and switched – perspectives on race (photos from O Magazine) pic.twitter.com/i7e5vPH6T8

— Jae (@jaeralde) May 14, 2017

Some critics have accused the magazine of reverse-racism, while others are questioning the magazine’s choice to hire a white male photographer for the assignment, but Buck told FLARE that as long as the photos inspire meaningful conversation, he thinks they’re serving their purpose. “One of the things that’s interesting for me is different people have different reactions and that’s really good,” says Buck.

“In a way the best pictures ask questions but don’t necessarily answer them. At best these pictures do that.”

FLARE spoke to the photographer about the delicate task of approaching this assignment as a white man, his goal of delivering the message with what he calls a “light touch” and the importance of art impacting cultural conversations about race.

How did the project come to fruition?

From my end, it was a normal editorial assignment. So I was asked if I’d like to participate and I said yes. The idea and the central visual aspects were driven by the O editorial and art department teams.

What was your reaction when you got the assignment?

I recognized it is a sensitive area and there was a chance the photo essay could be provocative but I’m drawn to that. I want pictures that are interesting and have impact and draw people in and might be thoughtful and so I was excited to be a part of it. As a photographer, I was interested in the challenge of doing it and doing it well.

How did you feel photographing a story about racial stereotypes as a white man?

It was something I was excited to do. As someone who’s a prominent photographer in the U.S. and one of the primary voices in portrait and advertising photography, it’s important for me to be part of what is going on in the culture; to distance myself from it and be disinterested would be doing an injustice to what’s happening in the culture. It’s important to engage in what’s going on in terms of cultural diversity or in the intellectual life of the country. When I was asked to the do it, I was pleased and happy to be a part of it and I hope my contribution made it better.

What has the reaction been from people close to you about the photo essay?

Different people have different reactions. I was talking with a friend who’s African-American and he felt that when some white people get upset about the pictures, they don’t really realize that the pictures in a way aren’t meant for them, they’re meant to speak to people of colour. And that is an interesting take. I’m a white person, so it’s not something that would’ve crossed my mind, but his take on it made sense given the kind of reaction that’s seen online and through friends. The fact is that even for people of colour, not everyone is going to be specifically connected to it. For some people who are particularly sensitive to racial issues or are activists in some way, it’s going to really speak to a narrative that’s important to them. And for people who aren’t particularly politically minded, it may have less resonance and that’s totally fine. One of the things that’s interesting for me is different people have different reactions and that’s really good—in a way the best pictures ask questions but don’t necessarily answer them. At best these pictures do that.

What do you think about those people on Twitter who say the photos are reverse-racist?

I’m happy for them to be part of the dialogue. The way I would advise people who find these pictures either offensive or questionable or unduly provocative, I would ask them to see them as a fable. They’re about reversing race expectations in a social context and so it’s asking you to ‘imagine this.’ In a way I hope I brought to it a bit of playfulness and even when dealing with a sensitive subject and something that certainly an important part of the social dialogue right now, I hope to deliver them with a bit of a light touch so everyone feels like they’re invited to this conversation. So if someone is put off by it or feels they’re being excluded from it, that’s unfortunate but if they’re vocalizing their feeling about it, that’s ultimately a good thing. I want everyone to feel like they can vocalize their feelings about it, whether they’re positive or negative. More talk about this is a good thing. I’d rather people not get upset or offended, but if that’s their reaction then I think that’s totally fair too.

What was the most challenging part of the project?

It was really quite straight forward. What’s good about it is coming from the Oprah Magazine, the legacy, and her whole backstory—Oprah has had such a strong level of support among all demographics of women that I think coming from her, there’s a sense of goodwill it’s not coming from a place of attempting to alienate or disrespect any group or any people, and so I think that’s one of the reasons why I felt comfortable stepping into it. In some ways, Oprah has been more politically vocal in the past few years, but there’s a reservoir of goodwill around her that made me feel comfortable that they were going to hit the right notes and that it wouldn’t be grossly misinterpreted. And the response has generally been consistent with what the intentions of myself and the magazine have been.

So would you say that as long as it’s provoking conversation and thought, it’s accomplishing what is was intended for?

That would certainly be my hope for it. Like anyone, I don’t want to have super uncomfortable conversations and in a way that’s what’s so good about a conversation like this—it invites people to talk about it. I want people to feel like it’s okay to talk about it. »

Researchers need to build lifelong habits to avoid being led astray by confirmation bias. Observations that are contrary to our expectations need special attention. In 1876, Charles Darwin said that he made it a habit “whenever a published fact, a new observation or thought came across me, which was opposed to my general results, to make a memorandum of it without fail and at once: for I had found by experience that such facts and thoughts were far more apt to escape from the memory than favourable ones”. I myself have experienced this. When writing literature reviews, I have been shocked to realize that I had completely forgotten to mention papers that run counter to my own instincts, even though the papers had no particular flaws. I now make an effort to list them.
We all find it difficult to see the flaws in our own work — it’s a normal part of human cognition. But by understanding these blind spots, we can avoid them.

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