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Why is the past black and white?

Abraham Lincoln

Alexander Gardner/ Sanna Dullaway, Abraham Lincoln, 1865/ 2012

Whenever someone famous dies, the Polish media illustrate the news with a black and white picture. I’d like it to be the result of the cultural connectedness of the two colours to death, but it is more likely only a result of identifying black and white photographs with the past tense. In Roland Topor’s La Princesse Angine the protagonists do not die, they only move from the present to the past tense. In the media the famous do not die either, but merely pass from colour to black and white. Someone in a black and white picture is someone form the past. That is why so many people find the colour photographs from the Second World War so eerie.

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