For 20 years, New York photographer Bob Walden documented crippling accident injuries, physical maladies resulting from medical malpractice and homes destroyed by negligence. The photographs were taken to aid civil legal disputes, but Walden’s photographs have been exhibited as art, removed from context of legal photography.
These are graphic depictions of deep scars, infected surgery sites, metal braces dug into skin, bruises and deformities. There is a deliberate adequacy to them. These are not sterile shots of isolated body parts of anonymous plaintiffs. These are portraits.
In a Kickstarter campaign for an upcoming photo book, Walden’s body of work is being referred to as “poetic meditations on the body,” “confronting” the viewer’s “notion of mortality” with “ravaged bodies.” There is also an involuntary narrative of class warfare.
The identities of these involuntary photo subjects aren’t particularly protected with a slender white censor bar over the eyes. The pain is raw, displaced. As a photo series, it’s hugely effective. Its ethics, however, are disputable. (Photos: Bob Walden via DAZED)