After viewing Martha Rosler’s exhibition in Seattle at the end of December, I had a rather tough time choosing an image for this assignment. I found Rosler’s images so rich in meaning and semiology, but as I had done a rather extensive exhibition write up on her work, I felt that I needed to expand my search in another direction.
Some of the images that were up for consideration were:
- Tomas van Houtryve – People buy bread in a bakery in Havana
- Marc Riboud – Pékin. Fenêtre d’antiquaire, 1965
- Édouard Boubat – Le café ‘La Tartine’, Paris, ca 1980
- Ernest Haas – New York 2
- Henri Cartier-Bresson – San Fermines, Pamplona, Spain
- Henri Cartier-Bresson – Listening to de Gaulle, near Aubenas, France
I did not chose Riboud or Boubat’s images as most of the commentary that I came across about their images was in French (language problem). With the 1,000 word limit for the essay I wanted to make sure that I would have enough to say about the image, so that cancelled the others out as I just wasn’t convinced that I could come up with the required amount of words. Having finally settled on Robert Capa’s image ITALY. 1944. Drivers from the French ambulance corps near the front, waiting to be called, I identified some elements of research that would be relevant:
- Try and pinpoint the actual location in Italy where the photo was taken
- What happened in that location?
- What type of vehicle is the ambulance?
- Is there a list of female ambulance drivers? Will I be able to identify the two ladies?
- What is the writing behind the truck?
- Background information on the French flag
- Research the medical symbol
I was able to research most of the items listed with the exception of identifying the two women. Perhaps if I was able to search a French military database or World War II records I may have had some success, but I do not speak French.
I then continued my reading of Daniel Chandler’s Semiotics for Beginners in order to gain a better understanding of semiology. I have not completed his book yet, but found that the portions that I did read helped to hone my analysis of the image. I also tackled a few of Barthes’ essays in Mythologies, specifically those under the Myth Today section, although I found these were a little heavy reading.
I then revised the essay writing techniques that were given in the course manual.