February 18, 2021
Record Texas Freeze and a Photo of the Times

Photo: Tamir Kalifa/The New York Times. Caption: A line of people waited to enter a grocery store in Austin, Texas, on Tuesday, February 16, 2021.

Record Texas Freeze and a Photo of the Times

More and more, news photographs are capturing compound crises. This scene is particularly arresting.

By Michael Shaw

From disease (note the masks) to the rapid acceleration of climate meltdown, this photo by Tamir Kalifa frames the compound catastrophes we’re enduring now.

The foreground evokes anguish and depression—including visual ties to the Great Depression—driven home by that icon of homelessness, the shopping cart. In the icy mid-ground is visual evidence of the freak winter systems that have hammered Austin and at least half the country in just the latest jaw-dropping planetary wake up call. And the background features another social practice that is becoming all-too familiar here in the States. Whether it’s a ballot, a vaccination, or just a meal you seek, join the queue.

As our eye, and our concern tracks from the individual to the masses, the deep inward gaze of this young person is completely understandable.

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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