|“Man with Flag”, © Roberto Candia - AP|
Many of you are probably aware that a devastating 8.8º magnitude earthquake hit Chile at 03:34:14 am on Saturday, February 27 last.
What you’re probably not aware of is that I actually live there, and was still awake at the time to live a – hopefully – once in a lifetime event.
Surely, few volunteers would step up to witness the fifth largest earthquake in recorded history...
Even though I told my friends that it feels more or less like being out on the open sea, trying to stay afoot in a small boat during a flying storm in the pitch dark, that does not quite do it.
What makes it terrifying is the noise.
The subterranean racket, the sound of a solid, armed-concrete house moving like a leaf in the wind, roof beams screeching against their foundations, tiles rattling; but most of all: things crashing down all around you…
For us, arrogant humans – accustomed to dominating nature – it is a mind-numbing experience to be overcome by forces that are completely out of our control.
Inevitably, post-traumatic stress sets in only a few hours later.
What is amazing to observe though, is how differently people react.
On the negative side, we sat astonished in front of the TV watching whole crowds – including upper middle class families – loot supermarkets, pharmacies, department stores and even private homes.
Someone on the street commented: “I can understand those in need, but with plasmas or washers you cannot make chicken soup...”
On the positive side, we now know that an entire country has learned overnight how to work together, join forces and share.
The newspapers and reportages on TV are jam packed with stories of heroism, collaboration and unselfishness, while the national movement “Help Chile get back on its Feet” was born on the very same day.
Every disaster has its Icons.
In the day and age of channel TV, YouTube and Twitter, photography as a medium is largely under estimated IMHO.
However, with most every citizen armed with a photo camera these days, press photogs and aficionados are very much on par when it comes to documenting current events.
I need only say 9/11 and a powerful, instantaneous and “amateur” picture comes immediately to mind.
In the end, icons of events – be that disasters or happy ones – are created by photography, not video.
Story telling is best done in motion picture but, on the other hand, icons are created by photography.
Therefore, I’d like to share the 2 foremost icons of the Chilean earthquake disaster here.
Special kudos to AP photographer Robert Candia for “Man with Flag”, a capture that has become a symbol of hope overnight, and the subject of which is currently flying as a symbol of solidarity at the Chilean Red's “bunker” at Nelspruit, South Afica...
|Photo: © AP|
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