Arts in New York City: Baruch College, Fall 2008, Professor Roslyn Bernstein
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Cornell Capa

Capa’s startling black and white photographs brought out the sympathy that usually resides deep in my being, back by the spine, slick with cynic oil.  I saw the solemn eyes peering between barbed wire and somehow felt chills of recognition down my spine.  Though his pictures were very specifically of Nicaraguan political prisoners, I had seen the look in other people’s eyes.  I had seen it in pictures a friend took while in Peru.  I’d seen it in friends’ eyes and strangers’ eyes and somewhere in my own head.  He found some sort of universal desperate vibe flowing from those inmates’ eyes and froze it for all eternity.   His whole body of work slipped neatly into order as you walked past them in the gallery, each separate photograph telling a story and the whole set portraying an entire people.
It was refreshing to see such a simple photo project done so well.  The prints all had wonderful contrast and let the image be rather then try and exaggerate it in any way.  The images also made you think of what was going on while he took his photos.  Did he ever ask his subjects to move, or to look at the camera?  Were they all candid?  It also just made you curious of the circumstances surrounding the photographs.  What’s going on behind that look in those peoples’ eyes?  His Nicaraguan series made you feel as though you were really seeing the history, not standing apart from it observing, but in the middle, the action swirling around you.