Bag’s Take-Away:

Of all the newswire images, this is the one that stands out, that really gives a sense both of the horrific scale  — 90+ dead, 5 bodies in this image alone — and of how sudden and unexpected the attack must have been on the island of Utoya. The dead lie where they were methodically killed one after the other, perhaps in desperate flight, or even before, when the assailant in police uniform had their initial trust.

The white sheets covering the corpses also identify the time specifically as after the gunman was arrested, but before they could be removed. It is a universal ritual to confer dignity to the dead by covering them, and in cases where there are many, like here, it also symbolizes equality and anonymity in suffering.

How many times have we seen these scenes from Iraq, Afghanistan, even Dover Air Force Base? How many times have I photographed them? Perhaps it is my New Yorker’s fantasy of the paradise of socialist Scandinavia in our American moment of hapless conservatism, but the news of this attack and this attendant image shocked me in a way that I thought could no longer happen. 

If the initial reporting is confirmed, that Anders Behring Breivik targeted the Labor Party youth camp on Utoya precisely for political reasons — along with massacre that wounded Representative Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona earlier this year — then the chickens really are coming home to roost. 

— photographer Alan Chin

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Topping LIFE.com’s 2011 list of Best Photo Blogs, follow us at: BagNewsNotes; BAG Twitter; BAG Facebook; Bag by Email.

Bag’s Take-Away:

Of all the newswire images, this is the one that stands out, that really gives a sense both of the horrific scale — 90+ dead, 5 bodies in this image alone — and of how sudden and unexpected the attack must have been on the island of Utoya. The dead lie where they were methodically killed one after the other, perhaps in desperate flight, or even before, when the assailant in police uniform had their initial trust.

The white sheets covering the corpses also identify the time specifically as after the gunman was arrested, but before they could be removed. It is a universal ritual to confer dignity to the dead by covering them, and in cases where there are many, like here, it also symbolizes equality and anonymity in suffering.

How many times have we seen these scenes from Iraq, Afghanistan, even Dover Air Force Base? How many times have I photographed them? Perhaps it is my New Yorker’s fantasy of the paradise of socialist Scandinavia in our American moment of hapless conservatism, but the news of this attack and this attendant image shocked me in a way that I thought could no longer happen.

If the initial reporting is confirmed, that Anders Behring Breivik targeted the Labor Party youth camp on Utoya precisely for political reasons — along with massacre that wounded Representative Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona earlier this year — then the chickens really are coming home to roost.

— photographer Alan Chin

—————

Topping LIFE.com’s 2011 list of Best Photo Blogs, follow us at: BagNewsNotes; BAG Twitter; BAG Facebook; Bag by Email.