TIME 100 (2016)

UNTITLED (COWBOY), RT: 15 minutes
Producer/Editor/Additional Cinematographer

Short documentary about Richard Prince's seminal act of appropriation of the Marlboro Man riding a horse under blue skies. While working at the tear-sheet department at Time Inc. Prince took pictures of the ads and cropped out the type, leaving only the iconic cowboy and his surroundings. That Prince didn’t take the original picture meant little to him and collectors. In 2005 Untitled (Cowboy) sold for $1.2 million at auction, then the highest publicly recorded price for the sale of a contemporary photograph. Prince’s rephotography helped to create a new art form — photography of photography — that foreshadowed the era of digital sharing and upended our understanding of a photo’s authenticity and ownership.


On June 16, 1976, several thousand Soweto students in South Africa set out to protest the introduction of mandatory Afrikaans-language instruction in their township schools. When skirmishes started to break out with the police, officers fired tear gas. Students hurled stones, the police shot real bullets into the crowd and a student, Hector Pieterson was killed. “At first, I ran away from the scene,” recalled Sam Nzima, who was covering the protests for the World. “But then, after recovering myself, I went back.” That is when Nzima says he spotted Pieterson fall down as gunfire showered above. What began as a peaceful protest soon turned into a violent uprising, claiming hundreds of lives across South Africa. The picture’s publication forced Nzima into hiding amid death threats, but suddenly the world could no longer ignore apartheid. The seeds of international opposition that would eventually topple the racist system had been planted by a photograph.


In this short documentary, photographer Donna Ferrato and her subject speak together for the first time about how these first images of unfolding domestic violence came to be. In 1982, Ferrato had approached magazine editors to publish the images, but all refused. So Ferrato took it upon herself to publish herself in her 1991 book Living With the Enemy. The landmark volume chronicled domestic-­violence episodes and their aftermaths, including those of the pseudonymous Garth and Lisa. Their real names are Elisabeth and Bengt; his identity was revealed for the first time as part of this project. Ferrato captured incidents and victims while living inside women’s shelters and shadowing police. Her work helped bring violence against women out of the shadows and forced policymakers to confront the issue.

Go to Time Magazine's 100 Photos project site.