Fotograf Magazine

#44 empathy

The ability to empathise with others is a construct that has only been around for a few centuries. This does not mean that such a skill did not exist until then. However, the concept of empathy creates a field in which this ability oscillates from understanding the other party to understanding the self. And because such a playground can be quite expansive, and the playing balls of empathy can be ping-ponged from one side to the other, we decided to dedicate an issue of the magazine to this field.

We most often associate empathy with a documentary approach in the context of photography. At the same time, it is important to note the appeal of Martha Rosler, Allan Sekula, and Ariella Azoulay who point to the phenomenon where images from conflict zones tend to help perpetuate established political and social roles and reinforce pre-existing stereotypes. On the other hand, by selecting diverse authorial approaches, we try to capture a variety of perceptive attitudes such as care, gender and race equality (e.g. non-white gaze), which offer an alternative and new perspective also in terms of ethics and ways of empathizing with the situation of others.

The fact that empathy is not entirely easy to grasp will be supported by two texts which, from a philosophical perspective, present the fascinating development of the concept and the two-facedness associated with it in Theory by Tomáš Dvořák. Or the realisation that no theory of empathy explores the way in which a person empathises with themselves, as Alice Koubová will point out in the Theme section. The interview with Palo Fabuš shifts the reflection towards artificial intelligence and the somewhat outdated paradigm by which we perceive it if we constantly liken it to humans, and also touches upon neurodiversity, which should no longer be perceived as a disorder but as an opportunity for greater diversity.


Markéta Kinterová,