I was half-paying attention to the TV news this morning when I heard a reference to the current violence in Iran. I turned to see the newsreader holding one of the daily papers but I couldn't make out the apparently abstract image on the front page...
At the station, I managed to buy the paper which had featured the picture. On an inside page was a smaller, full colour version of the image (taken from a mobile phone video) that is fast becoming an icon on blogs, social networking sites and Youtube.
To quote 'The Times', 'This is an image that will be burnt into the Iranian psyche. It will haunt the regime forever.'
Neda Soltan was killed by a gun shot to the chest during a rally in Tehran on Saturday. Her photograph now joins the newsreel of the nameless student standing in front of tanks in Tiananmen Square, the burnt young Vietnamese girl running from the napalm attack on Trang Bang, or the Robert Capa's photograph of a falling soldier taken during the Spanish Civil War.
Unfortunately, there are plenty of disturbing photographs now emerging from Iran. What is it about Neda's image that it should capture us in a moment like this?
It says much of the human condition that Neda's beauty and vulnerability should become manifest in such a visual and tragic expression.
The photo constructs an icon that is simple, direct and cuts viscerally through to the fragility of our lives. In fact, it makes our own beauty and vulnerability completely clear to us.
And, in this case, what is additionally disturbing is that Ms Soltan's first name means 'voice.'
(Photo credits: The Times; Fox News)