For my final paper my research question will be, “What did Margaret Bourke White focus on in her images?” I want to explore what White saw throughout her jobs, was it the people? The materials? The people? The community? Or the politics?
The specific topic I’ve chosen is Margaret Bourke-White’s images during the late 1920’s early 1930’s. I will analyze three of White’s most famous photographs from throughout her career. The Images I will focus on include, “Mahatma Gandhi 1946,” “At the time of the Louisville flood 1937,” and “ The living dead of Buchenwald 1945.”
Each of the images are strong black and white images focusing on the people and their expressions in the images. For the portrait of Mahatma his expression is serene, distracted, indirect and seemingly at ease therefore allowing the viewer to see him in this light. Also, we cannot see exactly where he is, we know it’s a room but there is an absence of place and therefore an attentive pull towards the person and not the place. For the Louisville the image is instantly and clearly meant to be ironic. There is a line of African Americans waiting in line for refuge from the flood, yet they are standing below a sign that says, “World’s highest standard of living: there’s no way like the American way.” Its irony is clear and can be interpreted in many ways. The absence of seeing where they are going makes you wonder who is handing them food and help? Perhaps it’s a group of white folks? Perhaps it’s a group of African Americans. Either way we still remain curious of where their line (in hope of something better will) end up. Last but not least we see “The living dead of Buchenwald,” and they truly do look like the living dead. White captured these men in a time of despair what really draws us in is their sunken expressions behind a barbed wire fence. We want to reach out and help, reach out and know their story. They are in despair and Margaret has captured these emotions from this period of time for forever. White has captured three very different types of images from the context to the expressions what is White really focusing on?