The Fluctuating Truth of Documentary Images
I think of this while looking at Lange’s iconic image of the “Migrant Woman”(1936). I think about it again while I delete, with embarrassment, a photograph I had enthusiastically shared on my social media. The highlighted, and now deleted, photograph was supposedly of a working-class Turkish family, but not just any family, one that arrived as saviors of the pandemic. The image was made into a fast-accelerating meme with the following caption: “This is an immigrant family, newly arrived in Germany. The boy in the yellow shirt will go on to invent the COVID vaccine.” In late 2020, the natural impulse was to share this image because it perfectly combined an uplifting and politically charged story. And yet, it is exactly because of the enthusiastic caption that the image needed to be deleted.