Nachtwey’s TB project
The NYT photo blog, Lens, today presents a feature on James Nachtwey‘s project to document the resurgence of drug-resistant tuberculosis in the developing world.
Nachtwey undertook this project after receiving a TED Prize in 2007, which granted him $100,000 to support “one wish to change the world.”
His choice of TB as a subject is both surprising and, on reflection, completely unsurprising. Surprising in that TB is no longer viewed by most people as a serious health problem; we no longer have sanitoriums filled with victims of consumption. The disease simply isn’t on our radar.
But drug-resistant strains of TB have been on the rise for some time, and Nachtwey’s work has taken him to places where TB is decidedly not yesterday’s disease. So it seems inevitable that he would choose this subject.
The resurgence of TB is the story behind the story of AIDS in Africa. It’s not on our radar — indeed, AIDS in Africa is barely on our radar here in the comfortable west. In bringing that story out of obscurity, Nachtwey has set an example of what good photojournalism should do: show us fewer bodies being pulled from the rubble, and more of the long-term consequences of the big story.