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Nowadays we exist thanks to images: Imago, ergo sum. The adaptation of the corollary to our condition as Homo pictor gives us ‘I photograph, therefore I am’, because there is no doubt that the camera has become one of the vital contraptions that encourage us to venture into the world and traverse it both visually and intellectually: whether we realise it or not, photography is also a form of philosophy.
Alex Majoli’s approach to image making constitutes a profound reflection upon the conditions of theatricality that are implicit in both photography and a world we have come to understand as something that is always potentially photographable. If the world is expecting to be photographed, it exists in a perpetual state of potential theatre. Whether it is a surveillance camera, a smart phone camera, or a photojournalist’s lens, the omnipresence of photography has created a heightened state of camera-consciousness.

Through her pictures, she takes a stand for the vibrancy of our thoughts, the importance of our customs. In that sense, her total body of work serves as some kind of manifesto or thesis, which argues that we are all worthy of attention, we are all interesting enough to be looked at—not regarded with bias, as some novelty, but truly seen, with dignity, respect, and reverence.

When I arrived in San Francisco in January 1975, my Ford Maverick filled with boxes containing what my twenty-four-year-old self considered valuable, I had fairly typical aspirations for a photographer entering graduate school: I wanted to make photographs, get them shown, and find a teaching position after graduation. What I didn’t anticipate was becoming an art critic or making the images that would come to define my work.

Eight decades since, reproductions continue proliferating, so much so that nobody keeps complete score. The picture's popularity is unquestionable. But popularity can be blinding. That may be the case with this still-celebrated photograph. Migrant Mother is typically viewed by both champions and critics as resembling the holy family, thus invoking the authority of traditional art as well as belief.