Tuesday, October 27, 2009

By the Maker of "Tank Man"

This past June marked the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Protests of 1989.  One of the iconic images of that time is a photograph of a young man facing down a row of tanks.  Variously called "Tank Man" or "The Unknown Rebel", the photograph was taken by Jeff Widener, who didn't realize the power of the image at the time:

"When I saw the column of tanks come down the Chang'an Blvd. I told the student Kirk that the lone man was going to screw up my composition. I was not thinking clearly with the concussion and I also was suffering from a severe case of the flu. Only a few days later when some of the other international news photographers congratulated me did the full importance of the image sink in. After all, after witnessing everything that I had seen over the previous few days, nothing really seemed far fetched."
(From an e-mail interview of Jeff Widener by About.com Asian History Guide Kallie Szczepanski.  The full interview is here.)

Widener will be giving two lectures and showing recent work at the University of Hawaii:  for the general public 7:00 p.m. on Friday, October 30, at East-West Center's Keoni Auditorium.  Widener will speak to UH Mānoa students and faculty at a free lunchtime discussion on Monday, November 2, at noon at the East-West Center's Ohana Room.  For more information, click here.

An interesting side note:  although Widener's photograph is probably the best known, there were several other photographs taken, including one from street level.  And a video.  Remarkable.


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