Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
October 15, 2011

Nina Berman at Occupy Wall Street: Sweeping Victory

If events had taken a different turn yesterday in the Bloomberg/Brookfield Office Properties vs. Occupy Wall Street stand-off (or, should I say, “wash-off”), the critics could very well have been comparing this figure today to, say, Don Quixote. In light of the victory, however, this scene is emblematic of more practical attributes of the unfolding movement. At the same time, the photo is aggressive and wholly civil, insurrectionist and constructive, deadly serious and seriously light-hearted.

Really, if Bloomberg and Brookfield wanted a fight, the issues of hygiene and consideration for public quality of life were some really odd values to try and hinge it on — not when dirt and the need for some serious clean up in more exclusive pockets dwarf whatever the protesters might need to do to keep Zuccotti sufficiently tidy.

Certainly, it’s far from a perfect translation, but this photo reminds me a bit of the images of the self-appointed, citizen soldiers we saw blazing around Libya earlier this year. At least for a day, these handles and bristles served as their own form of howitzer, the OWS rebels fending off a potential offensive from city forces in a battle, if wildly asymmetric, that’s looking more competitive by the day. Today the near corner, tomorrow the far one?

See Bag’s full OWS coverage here.

PHOTOGRAPH by Nina Berman/Noor

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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