Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
September 22, 2008

Wall Street Nightmare



Looking at these photos through the lens of the current financial convulsions, they read much differently, I’m sure, than when they were shot in 2003.  Right now, however, BagNewsNotes contributer Nina Berman’s photos anthropomorphize, and give nightmarish expression to my worst fears of a Wall Street disaster.

In the first shot, as if a sequel to “The Night Of The Living Dead,” it feels like these financial monsters — their intelligence derived from overly complex, computer-driven programs — have gone completely haywire and now roam the concrete canyons in a lobotomized state.

Although the figure in the second shot is moving left-to-right, I can’t help but read it as a skyscraper-like zombie, moving right-to-left in an autistic gate, the American flag forming a head (or a hood, like the kind forced over the heads of prisoners in Iraq).

Modern society, if we wish to call it that, lives with fears of all kinds of potentially devastating, man-made forces, be they biological, chemical or nuclear.  Akin to the YK2 panic, however, the degree to which our financial system — and the assets of most Americans — are thoroughly susceptible to insatiable power players and their automated instruments, Wall Street, too, has its own very real nightmare scenarios.

… We’ll have a less supernatural take on some of Nina’s Wall Street images later in the week.

(images © Nina Berman, New York, 2003)

About the Photographer

Nina Berman

Nina Berman is a documentary photographer with a primary interest in the American political and social landscape. She is the author of two monographs, "Purple Hearts – Back from Iraq" and "Homeland," both examining war and militarism. Her work has been recognized with awards in art and journalism from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the World Press Photo Foundation, the Open Society Institute Documentary Fund and Hasselblad, among others. She has participated in more than 90 solo and group exhibitions, including the Whitney Museum 2010 Biennial, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Portland Art Museum, and Dublin Contemporary. Her work has been featured on CBS, CNN, PBS, ABC, BBC and reviewed in the New York Times, Aperture, Art in America, TIME, and the New Yorker. She is a member of NOOR photo collective and is an Associate Professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She lives in New York City. See more of Nina's work for Reading The Pictures here.

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