I am reading The Cruel Radiance by Susie Linfield. The University of Chicago Press Ltd , London 2010 at the moment and it is not a comfortable read , hardly bedtime material. 

The cover looks innocuous enough but the calm gaze of the child on the front cover is deceiving. This is no family snap but an image of a child prisoner of the Pol Pot's Khmer  Rouge prior to her execution. 

Taken out of context the image is simply a portrait of a rather serious small child. However understanding the history behind the photograph provokes a reaction. It makes me personally angry and sad knowing what happened to not only this child but all the other countless individuals who have the misfortune  to be victims of regimes that have little or no respect for their fellow human beings. “Photographs-especially portraits , though not only they, demand that we encounter the individual qua individual: precisely what totalitarian ideologies forbid” pg. 97. 

However are images of human pain and suffering immoral as suggested by some critics? Central to the principle of Susie Linfield’s book is her argument that these images are , and continue to be , justified and relevant. However horrific they may be these images lead to the growth of groups who care and demand change to human rights.  


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