• Sunday, March 01, 2015

The life and death of Kevin Carter

Born in Johannesburg, Kevin Carter grew up in a middle class family in an all-white locality.
After high school, Kevin left his further studies and joined the Air Force. Four years later, he was beaten-up by servicemen for defending a waiter from abuse. He left without informing anyone to restart his life as a radio jockey.
In 1983, Kevin witnessed the Church Street Bombing and decided to pursue a career in news photography. Initially, he worked as a sports photographer and a year later he started working for Johannesburg Star.
In the mid-1980s he fashioned the first photograph of a woman, Maki Skosana, perishing by necklacing -- placing a tire, filled and saturated with gasoline, around the neck and torso of a person and then setting it alight.
Thirteen years later, he shot his prize winning and heart-wrenching photo in Sudan. The picture appeared in the New York Times in March 1993 sparked a series of questions.

WATCHING THE WATCHER: Rebecca Hearfield photographing Kevin Carter.
WATCHING THE WATCHER: Rebecca Hearfield photographing Kevin Carter.

Kevin could not enjoy the "success". He killed himself by inhaling carbon monoxide in July 1994, at the age of 33.
A rather short-lived photographer, he was long exposed to the sufferings of people. The killing of his friend and fellow photographer, Ken, hit him hard. Then there was drug abuse.
After his death, many gave their tribute to Kevin Carter in different ways -- film, documentary and music. He became an icon and a tragic figure.

Source: New York Times, fanpop.com, Time Online, famousphotographers.net; mikophoto.net



July 27, 1993. Kevin drove his red Nissan pickup truck to the Braamfontein Spruit River and backed it up to a tree. He attached a hose to the exhaust pipe, ran the hose into his passenger's side window, got into the cab, and lay down using his knapsack.
Earlier, Kevin wrote: “I am depressed… without phone… money for rent… money for child support… money for debts… money!!!… I am haunted by the vivid memories of killings and corpses and anger and pain… of starving or wounded children, of trigger-happy madmen, often police, of killer executioners… I have gone to join Ken [late photographer] if I am that lucky.”
Underneath that knapsack was another note: “I'm really, really sorry. The pain of life overrides the joy to the point that joy does not exist.”
Kevin committed suicide.

Kevin remolded as RJ nicknamed David. All photos: Collected
Kevin remolded as RJ nicknamed David. All photos: Collected


Published: 12:00 am Friday, August 15, 2014

Leave your comments | Comment Policy
ICC Cricket World Cup