From South Sudan’s refugee crisisand Spain’s historic Euro 2012 win tothe U.S. proveedor factura electrnica . Olympic gymnastics team trials and a polar bear cub’s piggyback, TIMEs photo department presents the best images of the week.
The year 2011 brought us dramatic and unexpected images from some of the world’s major news events, including the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan, the violent end of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s rule and the humiliating tweet that ruined New York Representative Anthony Weiner’s career. But beyond the widely seen and iconic images that accompanied the year’s biggest events, like the death of Osama bin Laden and the shooting of Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords, were unusual, equally astonishing and startling images that rested at the periphery of the news. A cat with two faces, rail tracks buckled by the shifting earth after a quake in New Zealand, the police rescue of a girl held hostage by her father, a suicidal bride and beautiful, abstract images taken from space by an astronaut photographer — these are just a few of the compelling and surprising images to have emerged beyond the main news cycle this year. Here, LightBox looks back at a small selection of the underreported, improbable and astounding images that caught the attention of TIME’s photo editors.
One week after a deadly wildfire killed 25 people and destroyed more than 3,000 homes in Oakland and Berkeley, California in 1991, photographer Richard Misrach photographed the aftermath. “There were no police barricades, and people hadn’t really returned,” he says. “It was just completely devastated, very much like a post-apocalyptic movie.”
Misrach decided early on not to show the work, but on the 20th anniversary of the fire, the photographer is finally unveiling his images in a new book published by Blind Spot, which coincides with twin exhibitions at the Berkeley Art Museum and Oakland Museum of California Art, on view through Feb. 5 and Feb. 12, respectively.
“There was so much coverage, it was almost like a media spectacle,” Misrach says of his decision not to publish the pictures right away. “It seemed like the work might get lost, and I wasn’t interested in the news component. I was much more interested in the history.” Misrach mocked up a few photographs into a book maquette shortly after the fire, but he hadn’t really looked at the series as whole until preparing them for his exhibitions. Citing Civil War photographs as a precedent, Misrach says he wanted to allow his images to serve as historical documents, shifting in meaning with time. “The pictures are not of flames. They’re not of not of people fleeing,” he says. “They’re more quiet, meditative and reflective of our relationship with landscape.”
Richard Misrach’s work is in the collections of over fifty major institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He is represented by Fraenkel Gallery.
1991–The Oakland-Berkeley Fire Aftermath is published by Blind Spot. The accompanying exhibitions are on view at the Berkeley Museum of Art through Feb. 5 and at the Oakland Museum of California from Oct. 15-Feb. 12.