Danny Lyon: Message to the Future

Solo en Inglès

Listen to commentary from scholars Elisabeth Sussman, Todd Gitlin, Julian Cox, and artist Danny Lyon on selected works in the exhibition Danny Lyon: Message to the Future.

Danny Lyon (b. 1942), _Haiti_, 1987. Gelatin silver print. Collection of the artist. © Danny Lyon, courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

Julian Cox: In 1986 and 1987, Lyon went to Haiti several times to document the dissolution of the Duvalier regime. He was politically committed to observing what was happening there. At this time very conscious of the influence of the United States and other cultures that the US had been doing business with or had political ties to.

This image encapsulates the difficult conditions of Port-au-Prince at this time. It's a tremendously powerful photograph shot from a low level. He's photographing this policeman standing in the city street with a gun in his right hand and a baton in his left. This barefoot woman is approaching him with her arms out in front of her, almost in a gesture of resolution or subjugation. The street on which they both stand is littered with garbage and detritus. It's a picture that's pregnant with a sense of violence and destruction.


This is really typical of the kind of picture that Lyon was so well trained and disposed to make. It has all the drama of a moment unfolding in front of him that he's caught in a very specific way where the two protagonists are seen in confrontation with each other.