"The basis of the tension with art came about to the extent that documentary was thought of as transparent reflection of the world, in which subjectivity, creativity and expression were necessarily suppressed. This idea was linked to a general association of documentary with 'lower' classes of producers- with 'primitives', workers, women and socialists. Elizabeth McCausland, who was prominent in the US Photo League, committed to putting documentary to the service of radical politics, makes this explicit: Documentary will be made by workers, not artists, and they will not try to prettify life but will present it 'unretouched', arriving at unadorned truth. It was a minority position, and we shall see that many early documentarians made artistic claims for their work. Yer if such a view now seems strange, it was partly because the Photo League was effectively suppressed in the Cold War ere by FBI harassment and media blackout, along with an entire leftist culture."
"Artist and theorist Hito Steyerl also engages with this new scene. She begins her account of documentary with a scenario close to that of Sekula: it is an engine for eliciting standard emotions, especially fear, among an artificialy united public. Yet she also points to an emergent sphere that breaks with the broadcast model of documentary, as more people have the means to represent themselves and show their work to others. This development has the potential to produce a documentary 'commons' in which the boundary between makers and subjects is eroded"