Iconic Photos

Famous, Infamous and Iconic Photos

How Death Creates Icons

with 6 comments

They uncovered his face, now clear and serene, and bared the chest wracked by 40 years of asthma and months of hunger in the wilds of the Bolivian southeast. Then they laid him out in the laundry room at the hospital of Nuestra Señora de Malta, raising his head so all could look upon the fallen prey. As they placed him on the concrete slab, they … asked the nurse to wash him, comb his hair, and trim the sparse beard. By the time journalists and curious townspeople began to file past, the metamorphosis was complete: the dejected, angry and disheveled man of the day before was now the Christ of Vallegrande … The Bolivian army had made its only field error after capturing its greatest war trophy. It had transformed the resigned and cornered revolutionary … into the magical image of life beyond death. His executioners had bestowed a human face upon the myth that would circle the world.”

Thus began Jorge Castañeda’s touching biography, “Companero: The Life and Death of Che Guevara“. After Osama bin Laden’s death at the hands of the U.S. Marines on May 2nd, Time magazine invited him to write an essay on iconicity of death (link), which concludes:

We do know a lesson we learned nearly half a century ago, that the best way to avoid an effigy of martyrdom is to dispose of the material basis for it. But there is a downside to no face, no body and no picture: in the eyes of many, insufficient proof of death. Skepticism vs. glorification — not an easy choice.”

Written by Alex Selwyn-Holmes

August 10, 2011 at 6:36 am

6 Responses

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  1. a minor point: SEALS are not Marines


    August 10, 2011 at 2:03 pm

  2. Dear Comrades,

    My Dear Jewish Friends went after Eichmann an thay could a put a cap in his skinny behind but instead they arrested him an brought him to ISREAL for trial.

    Now: They didnt have fancy helicopters an satilite this an that an ray-guns and what-not, No…they had to do it the ol’ fashoned way and do it they did! Brought him all the way from Argentina to Isreal without fancy helicopters or aircraft! They actually used a commercial airline! They Put him on trial back in ISREAL an sentenced him an then executed him!

    WITH ALL OUR MODERN GADGETS AN GOOD OL” SEAL TEAM SIX, WHY COULDENT WE DO THE SAME with Bin Laden? It would a been the trial O’ the Century an the revenue of action figures, souvineers, etc, would have gone a long way toward revitalizin our economy! (Hell, if you thought the OJ trial made money?….ah, forget it…)

    Because we didnt capture him, Ill Always be feelin like the tricks O’ the Trade we learned during tha Great WW2 have been Lost. Or, Like these Video Games the Kids are playin, it seems our boys are gettin lazy an feel that its better to “Shoot them all and let God sort them out”.

    Anyway, we Had ta Kill Che’….His Body oder was so bad that tourists were leavin from300 miles away.

    Your Obt. Svt.
    Chief O’ Mayhem in the Great WW2 an the Cold War,
    Now Chief O’Sanitation an Security (An the Complaint Dept.)
    OXOjamm Studios.

    Col. Korn

    August 15, 2011 at 10:17 pm

  3. […] victory sign; Kareem Fahim’s photo for the New York Times (ab0ve) is eerily reminiscent of Che Guevera’s exit half-a-century earlier, but we can perhaps take solace in the fact that when the dust settles and […]

  4. The Tourism Industry needs a coherent policy to grow. This in turn needs co-operation between all players in the marketplace.

    Steve Clayton

    December 28, 2011 at 5:58 am

  5. Asthma education plays a key role in helping you deal with both the condition of asthma and its effects. There is much you can do for yourself, both in terms of avoiding possible trigger factors and in keeping the body in a relaxed and calm state.


    January 6, 2012 at 11:39 am

  6. Always nice to see pictures of dead murderous communists…..he reaped what he sowed….


    June 29, 2012 at 4:29 am

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