The photojournalist Don McCullin, chronicler of the human suffering

Le photojournaliste Don McCullin, chroniqueur de la souffrance humaine

Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas Agence France-Presse
The work of the photojournalist british-Don McCullin, famous for his work in black and white that goes to the heart of the war and the poverty in the world, is showing at the Tate Britain until 6 may.

A woman in tears in the streets of Cyprus, the two hands twisted in desperate prayer ; a navy in a state of shock in Vietnam, the black face, the eyes in the wave ; a child with albinism in balance on two legs filiform in Biafra. The British-Don McCullin, in which the london museum Tate Britain dedicates a retrospective, photographed a half-century of human suffering.

Dubbed as the ‘Goya of war photography” by Henri Cartier-Bresson, McCullin has photographed many of the conflicts since 1960, illustrating our time of images and symbols. All in black and white. All developed by its care.

With his framing tight, torn in the heart of the action, it photography to bear witness. “Because these are photos, we can’t pretend that these events have not taken place,” he explained in 2013 to the New York Times.

“It is looking in the eyes of the people that we photograph, we get a truth, the depth, î he told two years later to the AFP, claiming to have experienced his greatest joy as a photographer by taking pictures of homeless people in london.

 

Le photojournaliste Don McCullin, chroniqueur de la souffrance humaine

Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas Agence France-Presse
In total, 250 photographs, all in black and white, all developed by the care of the photographer today aged 83, spread out their blackness on the gray walls of this london museum.

McCullin was born in 1935 in Finsbury Park, an impoverished slum in the north of London. “We lived five in a two-room basement without toilet,” said this child of the war in the Guardian in 2005. “It was a world of ignorance, intolerance, poverty and violence. “

His father, who sometimes works in a fish shop and, when he dies, Don McCullin is only a teenager. Scholar in a college of visual arts, he must stop his studies to meet the needs of the family.

“I’ve had a bad start, but ultimately it is this that has allowed me to start in life, î he told in 2010 at The Economist. “I learned about poverty, misery, and misfortune, and all these things that I’ve found later at multiple occasions on the fields of battle, in hospitals and on all these places of tragedies. “

It is looking in the eyes of the people that we photograph, we get a truth, depth

— Don McCullin

 

McCullin went on to jobs. He works in a studio of cartoons, where he develops movies and then did his military service in the photographic service of the Royal Air Force where he became an assistant photographer. He puts all his savings in the purchase of a small camera.

One Sunday afternoon in 1958, he photographed the friends of his gang, ” The Guvnors “, involved in the death of a police officer. On one of his photos that will become a cult, one sees the band of thugs endimanchés, the big slick hair, posing for the first floor of a building in ruins.

“This photo has changed my life,” he says in his autobiography, Unreasonable Behaviour, risks and dangers (1992). In 1959, the Sunday paper The observer published this image will become one of the emblems of photojournalism.

The pitfalls and perils

He has 23 years and is hired. It begins by covering the civil war in Cyprus (prize World press in 1964) and then continued with the Congo, Vietnam, Lebanon. In 1966, he joined the Sunday Times and travelled the world for more than twenty years, often at the peril of his life. He pulls over in Cambodia, he is imprisoned in Uganda, expelled from Vietnam and its head is put at price in Lebanon.

In that other weekly Sunday service, the images of the photographer-star, are reproduced in full-page accompanied by long papers of reporters and talented. “I sometimes had the impression to take home with me shreds of human flesh rather than negative. As if I reported with me the suffering of the people that I had photographed, ” he explained on the website of Hamilton Gallery, the gallery in london that represents it.

He admits to having been constantly gripped by a feeling of guilt because “no one has the right to take the pictures” of the people.

In 2015, returning from Iraq to 80 years, he claimed that it was now more difficult to cover the war. “You are being prevented by all kinds of lies and people trying to con you out of money,” he told AFP.

Knighted by the queen, knighted in 2017, he has lived for 30 years in Somerset, a peaceful area of the south-west of England with his third femmeet their son, her fifth child. There, he photographed landscapes early in the morning, always in black and white. And at the top of its long and strong silhouette, it continues to pose to the world his blue eyes turned grey.

An intense experience

In total, 250 photographs, all in black and white, all developed by the care of the photographer to the age of 83, spread out their blackness on the gray walls of the Tate Britain. The exhibition also features some of the objects that accompanied him in his missions, as his helmet of the american army, six of his passports, as well as his Nikon, in which is lodged a ball in 1970, while he accompanied the cambodian soldiers in a rice field. “There’s a lot of emotion in this exhibition, says its curator, Simon Baker. The work of Gift sends a punch in the face : it is really an intense experience, with the impression of being in the heart of the matter, “he adds, pointing out that” Don has always wanted to show and communicate the suffering, the misery, and the people in need ” which he knows something, for having himself grown up in poverty. “Even her landscapes have a drama. The skies are often very black and there is a sense of dark menace. “

Share