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Vanishing: Antonin Kratochvil
Book review and essay by Sarah Stanley Vanishing, a new book by Antonin Kratochvil, provides a unique compilation of images by a photographer who is distinguished by his great sensitivity to the plight of humans beings and animal species seeking survival in endangered habitats. The book provides a view into 16 of the most desperate conditions on this earth, “another planet’s hell,” the front cover declares. Although dealing with the most extreme forms of social and environmental degradation, Kratochvil spurns the pushiness of news coverage of these same issues, responding instead with images that are ephemeral occurrences he has encountered in everyday events. The stark black and white images never use sensational angles to exploit the pain of others; instead the book is a project in personal subjectivity and understatement. It is minute visual traces that tend to capture Kratochvil notice: Gorilla tracks found in the bush about illegal poaching (Congo), the shadow of leafless trees extending crippled limbs over a mining site (Guyana), tank treads and fleeing Iraqis (Basra).