Magnum Eye: The Peruvian Equation


Gilles Peress is an internationally renowned French photojournalist known for his documentation of war and strife, including in Northern IrelandYugoslaviaIran, and Rwanda. His work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Du magazine, LifeSternGeoParis-MatchParkettAperture and The New Yorker. He joined Magnum Photos in 1971 and served three times as its vice president and twice as its president.

"I work much more like a forensic photographer in a certain way, collecting evidence. I've started to take more still lifes, like a police photographer, collecting evidence as a witness. I've started to borrow a different strategy than that of the classic photojournalist. The work is much more factual and much less about good photography. I don't care that much anymore about "good photography." I'm gathering evidence for history, so that we remember"

– Gilles Peress

Peress began working as a photographer in 1970, embarking on an intimate portrayal of life in a French coal mining village, Decazeville, as it emerged from the ashes of a debilitating labor dispute. In 1973 he photographed Turkish immigrant workers in West Germany and documented the European policy to import cheap labor from the third world. "Peress has worked as a journalist to help finance those projects that constitute his personal search—a search to understand his own history." [2] He then joined Magnum Photos.

Peress soon traveled to Northern Ireland to begin an ongoing 20-year project about the Irish civil rights struggle. One of his most famous pictures from this period captures a young man named Patrick Doherty moments before he was killed whilst crawling to safety in the forecourt of the Rossville flats during Bloody Sunday (1972).

Power in the Blood, a book that synthesizes his years of work in Northern Ireland, is the first part of his ongoing project called Hate Thy Brother, a cycle of documentary stories that describe intolerance and the re-emergence of nationalism in the postwar years. Farewell to Bosnia was the first part of this cycle, and The Silence, a book about the genocide in Rwanda, was the second.

In 1979 Peress traveled to Iran in the midst of the Revolution. His highly regarded book, Telex Iran: In the Name of Revolution, is about the fragile relationship between American and Iranian cultures during the hostage crisis.

Peress has also completed other major projects, including a photographic study of the lives of Turkish immigrant workers in Germany, and a recent examination of the contemporary legacy of the Latin American liberator Simon Bolivar.

Now, Peress is professor of Human Rights and Photography at Bard College in New York and is Senior Research Fellow at UC Berkeley

Filmed and Directed by Gilles Peress
Edited and Post-Produced by Eric Marciano
Produced by Catherine Chermayeff
Associate Producer Maria Liedholm
Executive Producer Kiki Miyake