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Overview

In Human Documents, Robert Gardner introduces the work of photographers with whom he has worked over a period of nearly fifty years under the auspices of the Film Study Center at Harvard. Their images achieve the status of what Gardner calls “human documents”: visual evidence that testifies to our shared humanity. In images and words, the book adds to the already significant literature on photography and filmmaking as ways to gather both fact and insight into the human condition. In nearly 100 images spanning geographies and cultures including India, New Guinea, Ethiopia, and the United States, Human Documents demonstrates the important role photography can play in furthering our understanding of human nature and connecting people through an almost universal visual language.

Author and cultural critic Eliot Weinberger contributes the essay “Photography and Anthropology (A Contact Sheet),” in which he provides a new and intriguing context for viewing and thinking about the images presented here.

With photographs by Michael Rockefeller, Robert Gardner, Kevin Bubriski, Adelaide de Menil, Christopher James, Jane Tuckerman, Susan Meiselas, and Alex Webb.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780873658577
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 11/30/2009
Series: Peabody Museum Series
Pages: 128
Product dimensions: 11.00(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Robert Gardner was a nonfiction filmmaker, author, and founder of the Film Study Center at Harvard. His films include Dead Birds and Forest of Bliss.

Charles Warren teaches film studies at Boston University and the Harvard Extension School and is the editor of Beyond Document: Essays on Nonfiction Film.

Kevin Bubriski, a documentary photographer, has been the recipient of Guggenheim, Fulbright, and NEA fellowships, and his photographs are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art. He curated an exhibit of Michael Rockefeller’s photographs at the Harvard Peabody Museum.

Eliot Weinberger is an essayist, editor, and translator. His books include The Ghosts of Birds and An Elemental Thing.

What People are Saying About This

Some scholars are remembered as having been pioneers in their fields. In the case of Robert Gardner, an entire academic discipline, visual anthropology, came into being simply to formalize what he was already doing. For more than fifty years he has been an inspiration as an author, photographer, filmmaker, and teacher. Human Documents is a beautiful and profound book, as significant as any to appear since Susan Sontag's On Photography.

Wade Davis

Some scholars are remembered as having been pioneers in their fields. In the case of Robert Gardner, an entire academic discipline, visual anthropology, came into being simply to formalize what he was already doing. For more than fifty years he has been an inspiration as an author, photographer, filmmaker, and teacher. Human Documents is a beautiful and profound book, as significant as any to appear since Susan Sontag's On Photography.
Wade Davis, author of The Serpent and the Rainbow

Elizabeth Edwards

These extraordinary photographs, from the eyes of eight very different photographers, remind us of the humanising role of photography. The images work at the blurred boundaries between anthropology and photographic practices as both attempt to translate different experiences of the world from one space to another. The photographers represented here are acutely aware of this challenge, and their images go back to the classic roots of the medium at its most powerful.
Elizabeth Edwards, Senior Research Fellow, University of the Arts, London

Tracy Kidder

Human Documents is a book of stunning photographs which collectively show that visual art is more than merely illustrative.
Tracy Kidder, author of Mountains beyond Mountains

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