Monday, November 15, 2010


This is a photo of Elie Wiesel taken by Sergey Bermeniev. Elie Wiesel is a survivor of the World War II Holocaust under Hitler, and the author of 57 books, including the popular novel, Night. Also a peace activist, Elie Wiesel won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986, and was called a 'messenger of mankind'. Wiesel spent time in concentration camps Auschwitz and Buchenwald, where over three million people were killed or died from diseases.
In this photo we see Elie Wiesel's face, centered in the photograph, deranged from painful memories and a traumatic past. There are deep lines in his face from age and wear and tear that throw long shadows against the light. Part of his face is completely in shadow, though the rest of him is lit, and he seems to glow against the black background. His hair is crazy and white, and his expression is thoughtful as his gaze leaves the photograph to the right, almost disgusted as he is probably remembering what has happened to him.
I believe this is a successful portrait of Elie Wiesel because his expression clearly shows the pain he has felt, but its hesitant, like he knows that as hard as he tries to let people in, no one can really understand. Though he looks hesitant, the face is also very open and raw, letting the viewer see his inner suffering. It makes the viewer feel like an outsider. Everyone knows who Elie Wiesel is, and everyone knows what happened during the Holocaust, and how many people were killed, but few experienced it, and are alive to tell the story. It is the blatant memory of experience here that makes this portrait so strong and successful.

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