Book Review: Migration as Avant-Garde
By: Thomas MacDonald
How much would art differ without the influence of immigrants and refugees? You may not realize it, but the illustrious photographer Robert Capa was once an immigrant who overcame hardships to make an impact on photography. Many of the world’s greatest influencers, talented photographers, artists, and musicians are immigrants and refugees.
Migration As Avant-Garde is a poignant book put together by German photographer, Michael Danner. The term avant-garde can be described as new, unusual or experimental a term specifically used to describe the arts. Danner’s photography allows him to create a thought-provoking tale that documents modern-day migration. His photos of refugees that have been displaced from their homes combined with quotes by the German philosopher Hannah Arendt create an authentic presentation.
Upon first glance, I thought that this book was an attempt to be artistic while exploiting the subject matter. The more I analyzed Michael Danner's photography, I realized I had never been more wrong.
There is a lot to be said about the techniques utilized by Michael Danner. His assemblages. force the reader to flip between not just one, but two images that tell one cohesive narrative. By showing the journey and destination of his subjects, Danner draws the reader into his images without using his subjects as bait to appear overtly artistic.
Danner presents images of refugees while avoiding the types of typical angles and visuals seen in other forms of media. This technique allows the reader to live and breathe as they do. As you gaze onto the pages, the smart use of graphic design choices, typography; and photographic techniques completely immerses the reader into the story of migrants and refugees struggling to find their place in today’s chaotic society.
Danner grants voices to the voiceless while delving deeper into the concept of migration. Danner also proves that using experimental ideas isn’t always bad but a good thing. Migrants and refugees help shape the world around us just as Robert Capa had done in the past begs the question, how different our society would be without the influence of immigrants and refugees?