The Magnum Photos on display at Rome’s Ara Pacis Museum
The famous images and historical reports of the largest photojournalism agency in the world have arrived to Rome for their 70th anniversary. But the Ara Pacis exhibit takes us beyond photos. It allows us to peak into some of the great minds that have captured our world’s history. Magnum Manifesto seeks to not only have pictures speak for themselves, but unlike the usual photography exhibit, the photographers speak to their work as well. Its aim is to capture the aesthetic and overall mindset behind the creators of each collective.
From the beginning you are introduced to the pillars of this cooperative, Magnum, and its birth; dating back to 1947. It is from this point that you embark on your journey through history. Often times, through photography that is capable of capturing the little corners our eyes never bother to wander to, makes us realize not only how big this world is, but how small we are.
This exhibit does just that.
As you walk through the first set of galleries dedicated to “Human Rights and Wrongs,” then through “An Inventory of Differences” and read the descriptions and locations of each photo, you cannot help but feel.
Feel, not only for the person or thing in this photo.
Feel, not simply for this crazy messed up world we live in.
But, feel, for the first time for many, for the onlooker.
Often when walking through galleries such as this one, we may question the photographer’s ability to witness such horrors and joys from such a detached distance. What makes this exhibit the gem that it is, is that we no longer have to wonder! Or at least not as much as we had to before. Finally, we are gifted with glimpses into not only the minds of these artists and their mental processes while developing these collectives, but in some cases, their hearts.
One collective in the section “Stories about Endings” featured a woman named TJ who was a drug addict and prostitute. In the anecdote for these photos the photographer talks about how he tried to be a guardian for her and wanted to help her so badly. And for many observers, such as myself, this was the first time that not only was the photo itself observable art, but the words behind it as well.
We commend these artists for capturing some of the most essential, heartbreaking, and breathtaking moments in history, known and unknown. But what we should also be commending them for, and what this exhibit illuminates, is their remarkable ability to live through these moments and not only capture the emotions of the contexts but of themselves, of the onlooker.
Till 3 June
Museo dell’Ara Pacis
Lungotevere in Augusta
Open everyday from 9.30am – 7.30pm
Entry fee: €9-11