I recently came across the work of Reuben Salvadori in the magazine European Photography. Reproduced in the magazine were a set of photographs Salvadori took in the Palestinian village of Silwan that is located in East Jerusalem near to the Old City. Silwan has in recent years been site of a colonisation process by religious Jewish settlers who say that the village sits on the site of the ancient City of David. These settlers are buying up and take over houses, and are digging tunnels to try to find archaeological remains that they argue prove the Jewish right to all of Jerusalem. This has meant that Silwan has also been the location of weekly demonstrations against the settlers that involve violent clashes with the Israeli Border Police.
Salvadori’s photographs picture these demonstrations. But the photographs that constitute the series ‘Photojournalism Behind the Scenes’, do not merely focus on the Palestinian stone throwers and the soldiers who are the stock figures in many photojournalistic images of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but also on the press photographers themselves. These press photographers ‘frame’ this conflict in particular ways according to editorial and audience expectations which are themselves defined in relation to generic (and often stereotypical) visual framings of the conflict that have been established over time. In contrast to this Salvadori frames the framers (the press photographers) and through this re-frames the established visual frame of Israeli versus Palestinian confrontations.
As such his photographs might be viewed in terms of W. J. T. Mitchell’s idea of a ‘meta-picture’: a picture that is about pictures and picturing itself (W. J. T. Mitchell, Picture Theory, 1994). The point of such a meta-picture is to help us reflect upon and be critical of the images of the world that we get shown by the mainstream media. We do not usually see the photographers who take the pictures we view in the press and magazines or on the internet; they are the unseen mediators of the world out there. Because we do not see them, it is tempting to forget about what is involved in the visual mediation of the world through photography: the choosing of a particular thing to photograph, in a particular way, and at a particular time. Salvadori’s pictures remind us that it is real people and a real industry of image-making and image-circulation that provides us with photographic views of the world.