Gary Knight

Interview by Svetlana Bachevanova

I photographed this place nearly every day for several weeks in Kosovo in 1999. The trousers belonged to a young woman who was pulled from her parents and raped on the blanket in the foreground for several days by Serb soldiers or paramilitaries before she was executed. She demands attention.


SB. How do politics merge with photography in your work?

GK. It's not so much politics (which I think is too prone to dogma) as a disdain for pure journalistic objectivism - I think you have to be honest about what we think we know - call it how it is - don't be afraid of having a point of view. We owe the subject, the audience and ourselves that.

SB. Peter Howe, in his foreword for a "Moments of Time" by Dirck Halstead, calls photographer's work a moral and ethical minefield. Did you ever cross this field?

GK. I am less interested in journalism ethics than I am by morality - and I don't know the answer - honestly. What seems like good judgment at the time may prove to be bad judgment later and I try hard to bear that in mind but I am not flawless. I can live with that, it's better to try than be paralyzed by inaction or just observe and sit in judgment of the action of others.

SB. After so many years of fighting crimes against humanity, do you still believe in the power of photojournalism?

GK. That makes me sound like Elie Weisel, and I am not. I believe that photojournalism, like other forms of mass communication is a small and useful tool and when it is used wisely in conjunction and collaboration with other media and with the support of public opinion it can make a contribution - yes.
 

Polinter Prison, Rio. Over 90 prisoners living in 24 square meters of cell - some of them for many years.

SB. What is your biggest success as a humanitarian?

GK. I have made a small contribution on a few issues along with many other people from many fields to shine some dim light in some dark spaces but I am not going to claim any individual success, that's not how it works.

SB. Did you ever fail?

GK. More often than not, by a large factor.