Anthony Hernandez // Landscapes for the Homeless #18 // 1989

Welcome to number 15 in our series Poignant Pics where we’ve asked photo curators, educators, collectors and makers to share a brief essay on a photo that has significantly changed the way they think or look at the world.

Santosh Korthiwada contemplates his personal choice of subject matter when he came upon Anthony Hernandez’s Landscapes for the Homeless at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. 

Photographers have been recording the issue of homelessness for many decades, some in a unique way and some following predecessors (knowingly or unknowingly). When I walked in front of this particular image from the series Landscapes for the Homeless by Anthony Hernandez at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the content of these photographs were of complete contrast to the place at which they were displayed… and for whom it was displayed. When I personally viewed the work I felt there was a sudden, certain pause in space and time. It was not calmness but it was a definite silence that I experienced.

Having similar photographic interests,  I questioned my intent of choosing this subject matter and tried to figure out the root of that choice. It was a real struggle to connect all my thoughts & words and make some sense of the intellectual and emotional chaos. Of course, the justification evolved over time and was concurrent with my personal transformation. However, I always felt the root remained the same.

It was here, while looking at Hernandez’s #18, that all the dots were connected. My subject matter choices weren’t really a heroic motivation to change the world or an effort to represent voiceless… or furthermore proclaiming to be the savior of the subaltern. It was simply a conscious act of seeing the world with a sense of detachment. Not despair or disavowal but an intense sense of electrifying disengagement.

Thankfully there was a bench in the room so I sat down and continued to gape at this photograph and ponder.

—Santosh Korthiwada

Read our “Meet Santosh Korthiwada” post

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