March 12, 2005

Pain in Spain

This shot, commemorating the one-year anniversary of the terror attack in Spain, is on the front page of today’s NYT.

Here is the caption:

A Solemn Anniversary in Spain.  Tributes were left yesterday at Madrid’s Atocha rail station on the first anniversary of the March 11 train bombings, which killed 191 people.  Memorial events were held throughout Spain yesterday, and King Jan Carlos and Queen Sofia led the nation in observing five minutes of silence.

Regarding the artistic nature of the photo, does the fact it’s so stylized show any more or less respect for the event? 

Looking at it more formally, I think the image presents some interesting symbolism.  In anchoring the shot, the flowers could be seen as representing the tragedy itself.  Then, you have a frame or window formed by the combination of the bench and the sign.  Inside that “window” are three people who are blurred, with the first blurred person seeming to catch sight of the flowers.  Also, you have a woman at the far right, looking up and out of the picture, oblivious to the memorial.

If there is any meaning to be found here at all, what is the significance of blurred figures inside the window?  If there is an implied editorial meaning, does it have to do with the public’s attention to the event? The extent to which they are effected by it?  The extent to which they have any control over it? 

Notice that the woman (with her back to the shrine, one might say) matches the transit sign, whereas the blurred figures (most likely, men) are effectively monochrome.  It’s completely my association, of course, but could you say that women are more likely to feel empathy without the need for the literal contact with a memorial that a man might?

What else does the image suggest?

Is this be the future of grieving, where we mourn on the go?

(image: Manu Fernandez/AP in the New York Times)


Random notes:

>>If it looks a little wavy, that’s my camera.  Although Yahoo sometimes switches these things around, you can see the web version here.) 

Post By

Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

The Big Picture

Follow us on Instagram (@readingthepictures) and Twitter (@readingthepix), and


A curated collection of pieces related to our most-popular subject matter.


Comments Powered by Disqus