From Riches to Rags

I have yet to see a more dramatic picture, so direct and so cutting. A Reuters photo appearing in the context of an interview with the economist Joseph Stiglitz on the subject of the growing inequalities of the American society, the picture almost sounded like an Indian theme , a home-grown theme  so popular with socially conscious photo-journalists here. The almost cliched photo theme here now figures in the American context, once again bringing to the highlight the universality of the underlying image. The subject has no doubt become jaded and repetitive.But look at the caption of the photo:

Fashionistas pose for photographs in front of a homeless man outside Moynihan station following a showing of the Rag and Bone Spring/Summer 2013 collection during New York Fashion week.


I am not sure if the photo-shoot is deliberate in the choice of the background. The bearded old man,apparently unwashed and may be starving, sits on the steps on the sidewalk  with three well-fed and clothed fashionistas in their Rag and Bone dress extravaganza. The old man is not posing for the photograph but seems acquiescing in it as if he does not care either way. I do not know if any irony is intended because there is no reason for the Rag and Bone people to mean anything other than promoting the collection. But the juxtaposition of the  two images from the contemporary American society  is more than a macabre coincidence. The picture beautifully illustrates the point made by the economist Stiglitz that the American dream is a myth and that America is no more a land of opportunity where people can go from “rags” to ” riches” .In an ironical twist, ” riches” now go the “rags” way.

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