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.
A myriad of images inundates us daily with sequences from a more or less proximate reality, leaving us with the task of negotiating our responses to these representations that empathically seek our attention. The images that we encounter arrive in various forms on various platforms: advertising photographs, surveillance images, selfies, pictures of war or citizen photographs… In the midst of this new and dynamic representational landscape, independent activist groups and photographers documenting injustices around the world have become more prevalent, taking advantage of accessible means of photographic capture and of the possibility for immediate sharing of images with the world. Palestine is one of the places where injustices happen on a daily basis, leaving Palestinians with few and unequal means to respond with a counter narrative. This new online reality with its social media platforms has its own limitations but it is now an important part of their resistance, with photography being used as a form of protest. Citizen and independent photographers, such as Janna Tamimi and the Activestills group, are using these online channels to attest to injustice and oppression themselves, regardless of the presence of the photojournalist as a witness. The professional stance of photojournalists and their objective observations are assumptions that have been fading out, motivating non-professionals from Palestine, and other places, to disseminate imagery with the hope to be seen and to be heard.
In the chapter “Self-consciousness”, found in his most important work The Phenomenology of Spirit (1807), Hegel presents his famous thesis on the master-slave dialectic. The relationship between the two is reciprocal as one’s self-consciousness is acknowledged only through the other’s self-consciousness. In a combat relation, one of these self-consciousness’s gives way, while the other rises from the fight as a master. The idea of a master-slave dialectic was one of Hegel’s most influential ones; most notably, it inspired Marx in his formulation of the historical struggle between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. Much later, Kojève pointed out that Marx, in his formulation, omitted a key element found in Hegel’s equation: knowledge/truth is always on the side of the slave/proletariat. This gap that influenced the great French thinkers could not have come at a better time. Following the French Revolution, the structure of sovereignty changed radically, as the new social structures required a different kind of sovereignty. Up until the times of Freud, who witnessed the last “true” monarch, Franz Joseph, the remaining powerful father figures were slowly losing their power. The disappearance of traditional authorities provoked changes in the social structure. Society became mediatized hand in hand with political populism, however, this mediatization received its antipode in modern art.