Construir a paz nas mentes dos homens e das mulheres

The Photographic memory

With the publication of this issue devoted to photography, The UNESCO Courier marks its fortieth anniversary. The conception and presentation of the entire number are a departure from the usual Courier formula in the sense that priority is given to the pictures; these are complemented by texts which attempt to provide an insight into the mind of the photographer.

The issue has been prepared as an album of photos chosen to illustrate the general theme of photography as a means of memorializing people, places and events. Our coverage of this vast subject is inevitably far from exhaustive there is, for example, no history ofphotography nor an account of its many applications in science and technology. The following pages have been designed to highlight a certain approach to photography in an age in which it has become a ubiquitous and perhaps even sometimes an overwhelming medium.

By keeping oblivion at bay and constituting what Charles Baudelaire called the "archives of our memory", by bearing witness to private and public life, forming a documentary record of current events on a national or global scale, or simply capturing the fleeting moment when the eye of the photographer meets the eye of the subject, photography can be an instrument of the utmost value in human communication and understanding.

The professional and non-professional photographers of yesterday and today whose work is featured here, as well as many others whose photos we have been unable to include, all participate in a process which restores life to moments from the past. In the case of four of these photographers, we also evoke, by means of a photo and a short biographical sketch, the work of four earlier masters of the medium with whom they have affinities.

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April 1988