When one visits the rooms dedicated to Velásquez in the Museum of Prado, it is extraordinary how portraits of kings and those of jesters and peasants are laid side-by-side. The nobility and dignity given to the lower members of the court exemplifies an early example of a revolution in the politics of representation. In the antipodes of this example, we analyse how the campaign of the millionaire Michael Bloomberg to be the Democratic Candidate for the 2020 elections hired companies to produce nonsense memes and digital propaganda. Our hypothesis is that on the center of its strategy the goal was to create an image of Bloomberg that besides viral would be relatable and humorous. The article overviews the evolution of the portrait as an element of political of representation and reflects on how the development of modern and contemporary art transformed the art of political portraiture. Furthermore it deliberates on the two-way appropriation of representation techniques between art movements and political movements.
India’s Independence from the colonial rule saw the nation’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru emerge as a powerful visual presence. At the peak of his popularity, in June 1955, he made a highly publicised 16-day visit to the USSR. This visit, made in the backdrop of the Cold War and the impending Big Four Conference, was covered in detail by the Indian and foreign press, as well as both government’s official photographers and camerapersons. Paper addresses an official album made after this iconic visit to investigate the role of photography within India-Soviet diplomatic networks. Casting Nehru as the Master persona, it delves into the function of photography in recasting his image as an international traveller, a crusader for peace, a negotiator, and a friend of the Soviet. Considering India’s and Soviet’s differing political stance and international position in that period, the article questions what does the presence of these official photographs reveal about emerging trans-national networks and if there were there any deviations in this careful reconstruction of the Master and his ally.
Financial domination (findom) is a fetish practice in which a submissive derives erotic pleasure from sending money to a dominant or a cashmaster. Cashmasters produce photographs meant to elicit this desire in cashslaves, essentially arousing the desire to send money. This essay approaches this emergent genre of seemingly self-promotional photography as a genre of photographic performativity (Levin 2009). Rather than the desire to capture or represent (Batchen 1999), these images evidence a choreography of photographic performativity including both masters (as makers) and slaves (as viewers). Though the compliance with form and economic practice tempts the interpretation that masters are now slaves, this essay suggests that these images invite performances of domination, submission, and critique into wider performatives of arousal and elicitation. What critics and social analysts perceive as power (economic, erotic, or otherwise) are, in fact, desire at its seams, in the process of active and cooperative composition.
The article that aims to analyse the artistic production of photographer Bojan Salaj is based on conversations and reviews of his archive. Among Slovenian photographers, Salaj is the one who has been seen as an embodiment of the decisive shift in perception of the photographic medium that occurred in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He has never worked as documentary photographer or photojournalist; his authorial practice has always been primarily focused on the context of exhibition and against unconventional solutions. Salaj is one of those photographers who are characterized by the deep reflection of the meaning and perception of image from different, mainly philosophical, viewpoints, while at the same time following the objectivistic principles of photography. At a glance, his practice is extremely eclectic and post-modern, which is due to the fact that he is not looking to find an individual and recognizable artistic voice; he dedicates his focus to individual projects, bringing into his work various different references and themes. Nevertheless, a central motive can still be perceived throughout his output. In the past 25 years, Salaj has mostly been attracted to the here and now; this includes the fundamental problems of representation of photography in mass media, iconography of power structures, models of construction of history, and ways of establishing national and cultural identities.
Macinnis’ photographs of various groups of animals are so striking because all the animals assembled in front of the camera seem to be most willing to accept the camera’s gaze and the power relation implied. Animals are usually hard to photograph, because they are not particularly collaborative, unpredictable in their movements, and tend to flee the frame. Macinnis’ protagonists pose and look straight into the camera. They appear tame, pacified, ‘civil’, patiently awaiting their pictorial equivalent. As in all well-managed and representative group photos, there are no obvious signs of disorder or potential subversion. Macinnis’ patchwork families look friendly and demonstrate unity and a sense of aesthetic order. Macinnis’ photos allow for a reflection on group photographs and their specific arrangements. At the same time, they make one painfully aware of the disciplinary nature of the photographic act. Posing and freezing in front of the camera is a cultural practice that had to be trained and appropriated. Narratives from the beginnings of photography prove that. By looking at Macinnis’ fully disciplined animal models, one realizes how much of our own unruliness we had to give up to fit into the photographic system.