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Michelle Frankfurter May 12, 2010

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Haiti.
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National Cemetery in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. 1994

Michelle Frankfurter (b.1961, Israel resides USA) graduated from Syracuse University with a bachelor’s degree in English. She spent three years as a staff photographer for the The Herald – Journal and Post Standard in Syracuse, New York. Before settling in the Washington, DC area, Frankfurter spent three years living in Nicaragua where she worked as a stringer for Reuters and with the human rights organization Witness For Peace documenting the effects of the contra war on civilians. In 1995, a long-term project on Haiti earned her two World Press Photo awards. She has worked for a number of editorial publications, including The Guardian of London, The Washington Post Magazine, Ms., Time, and Life Magazine. Her personal documentary work has been featured in exhibits at the Arlington Arts Center, The Washington Project For the Arts and the Ellipse Arts Center in Arlington, Virginia.

About the Photograph:

“I took this photograph during a funeral service in Haiti’s National Cemetery in Port-au-Prince. The sprawling cemetery in Haiti’s capital city lies at sea level; therefore, the tombstones are raised above ground. Nevertheless, because Haiti is so heavily deforested, flash floods occurring during the rainy season send water cascading from the hills where it rushes through the cemetery, often flushing out caskets along with their human remains. Although I was present in Haiti during one of its many tumultuous periods of political unrest, when violent killings were a nearly daily event, this particular funeral was unrelated to the then current state of conflict. Nonetheless, death and funerals are never ending in Haiti. I had taken several photographs showing the larger overall scene: a group of about fifty mourners perched like a flock of solemn birds amid a landscape of raised tombstones. I eliminated most of the literal context of the image; the tight perspective resulted in an ambiguous photograph.”

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