In Regarding The Pain of Others, Susan Sontag reevaluates the interaction between spectators and the spectacles of war. Her last book, published in 2003, reads like a history of the Western gaze on war, punctuated by unanswered questions. What do we make of the act of looking, of the implications of looking at and consuming war? Is the criticism that photography may distort, denounce, create complicity, compassion, or indifference to reality, truly relevant to our ethics and actions? Or does it rather stand in for reality? Does it assuage our shame for not being able to understand it and our fear that we may one day do? Twenty years after its publication, Sontag’s poignant insights and her reckoning with her own righteousness and that of others offer material for an open conversation.
Centro Primo Levi invites you to consider this essay with us. We will pause and pay attention to what and how we witness every day.