Thursday, 1 April 2010

Marc Riboud

Pentagon March 1967


On the left of the image several state troops are holding guns in one long line formation. On the right a woman of a relatively young age is holding a flower in her hands with a blank look on her face. Each soldier's weapon has some sort of bayonet on the end of it and the weapon closest in the image is pointed directly at the woman. The photograph has a faily shallow depth of field and has been taken on black and white film. It was taken during a demonstration march outside the Pentagon in 1967.


Riboud took this photo during the invasion of Vietnam by the US Military. The clear purpose of the image is to be a visual opposition to the Vietnam war. The soldiers are following orders and maintaining a strong formation whilst the young woman stands defiantly against the intimidation and threat of of the weapons clearly aimed in her direction.

The innocence of the flower against the force of the armed troops.

There is a picture of good and evil in this image. The woman is surrounded by light. SHe is dressed brightly and is holding the flower, the flower being a very sybolic object in relation to the idea of peace and peace on Earth. Almost the entire left side of the image is dark, the soldiers' guns and their strength in numbers shows signs of confrontation. However, the soldiers' strength in weapons and numbers shows signs of weakness when confronted with this woman. There is a clear juxtaposition of the flower being held against the gun: the power of the gun against the fragility of the flower could suggest an idea of peace, the flower - peace, being ever stronger than the gun - war.

The rally had one clear purpose - "The protesters hoped to do nothing less than shut down the war effort, if only for a day."

In most ways, the meaning of the image stays the same today as it did in 1967. The troops sent to Vietnam were exposed an unexpected outcome: Guerilla warfare. The troops were being put in an environment that they were not familiar with and suffered mass casualties from things like ambushes and traps which they had not been trained to deal with. The American public, and also the British public saw this as a pointless war, much like the way that many people have seen the Iraq and Afghanistan wars today. An obvious opposition.

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