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After a big buildup over the past few weeks, we now know the big story the James Nachtwey has been working on since winning a TED prize last year. The prize is awarded during the TED conference–the annual meeting of big brains, big money, and big power where issues large and small are discussed. The $100,000 prize goes to people with projects that will impact the world in some way–Al Gore used a TED to create “An Incovenient Truth,” for instance. Seldom has a TED Prize come with such a buildup or sense of mystery as Nachtwey’s, however.
With his prize, Nachtwey has taken on extremely drug-resistant tuberculosis. This disease is a deadlly mutation that occurs when common tuberculosis is left untreated or is mistreated. Nachtwey has been documenting the effects of the disease and its spread and has created an organization to publicize the mission.
The images are remarkable, sometimes transcendent, as you see here. Many, however, are more prosaic yet invaluable in telling the story that Nachtwey wishes to tell. He is not turning the disease into art. And that makes the work even more powerful. –David Schonauer