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#47 / 2017

international photography magazine

No power without image control

PROPA GANDA


09.12 NOV 2017 GRAND PALAIS


PRO PA GAN DA

No power without image control


Features

Contents

4 What’s new?

9 Self Portrait Thomas Mailaender

Maya Rochat, Osservatorio Fotografico

18 Toolbox

22 Interview

29 Unexpected Marriages

Ivor Prickett, Márton Perlaki, David Favrod, Rico & Michael and Émilie Régnier

Jaya Pelupessy

Lucy Conticello

16 Snapshots

Roger Ballen & Asger Carlsen

Propaganda 34 Portfolio Overview

36 Alternative Facts

51 Simon Menner

71 Simone Donati

91 USSR in Construction

111 Mathieu Asselin

Hotel Immagine

by Marcel Feil

Issue 12, 1933

Role Models

Monsanto: A Photographic Investigation

131 Propagating the Self

139 Signs and Symbols

147 Appetizing

155 Christopher Anderson

175 Robert Rauschenberg

195 Wafaa Bilal

by Mirjam Kooiman

Stump

215 Harit Srikhao Whitewash

by Kim Knoppers

by Hinde Haest

Stoned Moon

Virtual Jihadi


by Marloes Krijnen Editor-in-chief

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Editorial

Nowadays our notion of reality is more than ever a composite built from countless fragments of information. With the undermining of a shared concept of reality, the notion of truth loses its moorings. Truth is closely bound to reality. Even at the highest political level, facts that appeared incontrovertible now seem to be ruthlessly parried by people wielding ‘alternative facts’. Truths are dismissed as lies, lies sold as truth. On social media in particular, arguments break out about almost every conceivable subject, and opinions and facts tumble over each other. The consequence is universal confusion: nothing is certain any longer, whilst nothing is beyond doubt. Our era is increasingly acquiring the label Post-Truth. The international word of the year for 2016 refers to circumstances in which objective facts have less influence on the formation of public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal conviction. The prefix ‘post-’ is used

here in a reference not to a specific later period, as in post-war, but to a time when the concept to which it applies has supposedly become unimportant or irrelevant. As truth is dispensed with and emotions are stoked instead, it is of the greatest importance to take a critical look at the nature and provenance of information, especially visual material. Strategies for influencing our emotions, our opinions and ultimately our behaviour are becoming more and more sophisticated and effective. Power cannot exist without control over images, so it is unsurprising that parties eager to gain or retain power are often extremely adept manipulators within media culture. This holds true for commercial or religious power as well as for political authority. Propaganda, the manipulation of political opinion by means of carefully selected information or disinformation, is common to all eras. But rarely was

the playing field so ambiguous and the players so hard to identify. Now more than ever, therefore, we regard it as of the greatest importance to devote an issue of Foam Magazine to ‘Propaganda’. Aside from Robert Rauschenberg’s Stoned Moon series, as well as Alexander Rodchenko’s work for the Soviet propaganda magazine USSR in Construction, the portfolios shown here are mainly by contemporary artists. These artists share a critical attitude to propagandist media strategies and the visual imagery deployed within them. Look at the sublime way in which Mathieu Asselin focuses on the shameless statements put out by agricultural multinational Monsanto, or the work in which Simon Menner shows how, when communicating with the rest of the world, ISIS makes use of innumerable stereotypes from Western culture. Art can adopt a critical attitude to power, expose it, and where possible show its true face. That is more valuable now than ever.


What’s new?

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ÉMILIE RÉGNIER

We all take on a second skin sometimes. Often, we build a public image through this skin: one that allows us to be beautiful, sexy or wild. My new project explores the history of the leopard as a global symbol. In Central and Southern Africa, leopard fur has long since represented tribal power, reserved for witch doctors, chiefs, and later for heads of state like Mobutu Sese Seko, the former dictator of Congo-Kinshasa. The leopard hat he wore stood for victory over his enemies. In South Africa, leopard fur has been an emblem of Zulu and Xhosa power for centuries. Mandela himself wore the traditional clothing upon his release from Robben Island. Since Dior first brought the leopard pattern to the catwalk, it has become a symbol of sensuality and self-assured femininity. I want to show how the West and Africa share the leopard symbol; its print becoming a material we use and abuse. The project provides an opportunity to advance the conversation as to what can unite mankind despite social and geographical differences.

ÉMILIE RÉGNIER (b. 1984, CA) was raised between Gabon and Canada. She studied photography in Montreal, though frequently returns to Africa. As a freelance photographer, she has also worked in the Middle East, Eastern Europe and the Caribbean. Émilie’s work has appeared in various magazines including Le Monde Magazine and Der Spiegel. In 2016 she exhibited at Paris Photo and at Milan’s Photo Vogue Festival. She was featured as a Foam Talent in 2014.


Self Portrait

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THOMAS MAILAENDER What happens when you grant a photographer carte blanche to portray himself as he sees fit? Do the resulting images reveal anything surprising about the creative in question? With this Self Portrait, Thomas Mailaender opens the door to a weird yet wonderful world, offering us a taste of his context, his work, and the things that inspire him.


Snapshots – A visual diary

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Maya Rochat MAYA ROCHAT (b. 1985, CH) is a multidisciplinary artist who has exhibited at institutions such as Paris’ Palais de Tokyo, Switzerland’s Fotomuseum Winterthur, as well as the Turbine Hall of London’s Tate Modern. Her images have been published by Aperture, British Journal of Photography and YET magazine amongst others. Rochat is the laureate of the A. Hermanjat Foundation Prize 2016 and has published a number of books, including Crystal Clear by Editions Patrick Frey and A Plastic Tool by Meta/Books.


Snapshots – A visual diary

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Osservatorio Fotografico OSSERVATORIO FOTOGRAFICO is a platform for research on photography founded in 2009 by SILVIA LODDO (b. 1977, IT) and CESARE FABBRI (b. 1971, IT). Their programme of seminars and conferences – as well as their research – has resulted in a number of publications. They have been selected for the first issue of Documentum; a periodical examining cultural ephemera. Loddo also works for the photographic archive of the Venice Biennale, whilst Fabbri’s own monograph, The Flying Carpet, was published by MACK in January 2017. The series was recently exhibited at Fondation A, Brussels.


Toolbox

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Glasses — TRACES OF THE FAMILIAR, 2016

Jaya Pelupessy

How does a project come to life? What does it take to create it? In his work, Jaya Pelupessy (b. 1989, NL) blurs the boundaries between research and end product, allowing both an equal footing. Moving between coexisting positions to gain new perspectives, the artist creates visual illusions before undermining them in his role as researcher. For this edition of Toolbox, Pelupessy shows how he uses photography to investigate the medium’s status: can examining the method itself – and making that process visible – reinforce, invalidate, or even give life to new autonomous images? These questions led Pelupessy far beyond the parameters of his discipline, culminating in Traces of the Familiar: a collaborative show at Foam’s 3h exhibition space with Felix Van Dam. Images from the project, as well as those from SET - PUT - RUN  and Another Observer, reveal an imaginative approach to the medium.


Toolbox

19 TRACES OF THE FAMILIAR, 2016 Fascinated by how photography constructs images, Felix van Dam and I developed a new technique with a camera that combines photography with silkscreen printing. 1 — Doka, this is where we wash the silkscreen. The areas of emulsion that weren’t exposed extensively to light dissolve, leaving a negative stencil of the image on the mesh. 2 — Uv-Family, these are the lamps we use. 3 — Orange on blue, we use facial tanners and half-body lamps to photograph onto the silkscreens. We purchased these lamps second-hand from people who looked similar to the woman in this image. 4 — Test #302, this is a photo taken with the silkscreen camera. Multiple photos with different exposure times are printed on top of each other to create depth in the image. 5 — Exposed negatives.


Interview

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Interview

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Lucy Conticello Text and Images: Sabine Mirlesse

I first met Lucy on a visit to Le Monde’s offices in Paris around five years ago, when she was about to go on maternity leave. Long since back at her desk, the photo director of M le Magazine du Monde – born in London, raised in Rome and educated in Italy and Maine – now lives in Montreuil, a Brooklyn-ish neighbourhood just outside Paris’ city limits populated by cool hipster families, artists and the like. Punctuated with her cigarette breaks, our interview found us wandering around on a rainy grey Sunday whilst Lucy discussed how she excavates emerging talent, whether there is still a gender gap amongst both editors and the photographers they assign, and how she first found photography in order to avoid catechism classes.


Interview

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Le Monde is the most renowned and respected newspaper in France. Does being part of that put a certain weight on your shoulders? What about the impact that the images you publish have on the public?

Photographie, Lightbox, Lens Blog, Landscape Stories, GUP. I’m constantly adding photographers to my contact lists but when you start cross-checking and searching for, say, a ‘Paris Portrait Photographer’, you get pages of results, so I try to be precise. The fact that it’s not a visual list is challenging, because I usually remember a photographer by their work rather than their name. I already mentioned my reliance on post-its: I also save pictures and put them in folders or add them to lists. I am still searching for a system that would allow me to multi-tag images and store them in a way that is functional. Photo fairs are the best way to scout talent. Sometimes portfolio reviews are good, and once in a while you find an amazing photographer. At photo fairs you talk with so many people from other worlds, making it easier to stay in tune with what the younger generation is doing.

SM 

We definitely have to keep that in mind but not to the point that it prevents us from making choices. As a newspaper you do have responsibilities towards your readers, you need to be fair, fact check your stories and picture captions. An editorial meeting involves several people sharing ideas, pros and cons. While the responsibility resides with the editor-in-chief – who decides what stories and angles, what to discuss and omit – the collective discussion within the newsroom is what helps balance these choices. Photo editors and word editors are often making a case for new stories. I remember pushing for gender-related stories extensively about five years ago, which at the time just wasn’t on the magazine’s agenda. I’ve been talking about doing a story on race in France for years. I’d also love to do a story about multi-culturalism, and how Parisians in particular feel so worldly because there’s so many communities living in Paris, and yet there is a very strong perception that this richness is suppressed and smothered under a French-imposed identity. I am very interested – especially in recent years – in artists whose work focuses on politics, such as Martha Rosler, Edmund Clark and Broomberg & Chanarin.

LC 

Does talent rule above all else when assigning?

SM 

Talent and personality. Can this photographer take on a huge character and stroke that ego to get a strong and meaningful portrait? Some photographers don’t even speak with the subjects because that’s their thing. They’re introverted or quiet and yet they can still create a tension that makes the person uneasy in an interesting way.

LC 

How do you scout new talent?

SM 

LC

I ’m an avid reader of blogs. My favourite used to be Conscientious by Jörg Colberg. There are so many I admire: It’s Nice That, Booooooom, American Suburb x, HotShoe, a new nothing, 1000 Words, BJP, L’Oeil de la

SM

 ounger people you’ve got your Y eye on?

LC

 here are so many that come to mind. T There’s a French guy, Maciek Pozoga, who I think is extremely talented. Alexandre Guirkinger, Karen Biswell, Rebekka Deubner, Stefanie Moshammer, Yann Stofer, Benjamin Schmuck, Estelle Hanania, Federico Clavarino, Gregory Halpern, Nicholas Albrecht, Raphael Dallaporta, Shane Lavalette. I love Mustafah Abdulaziz, who is based in Berlin. Mark Peckmezian. Ryan Pfluger, Molly Matalon, Adrienne Grunwald, Jack Davison. I ‘grew up’ with Gabriele Basilico, Guido Guidi and Luigi Ghirri, Robert Frank, Lewis Baltz, James Nachtwey and Paolo Pellegrin. Eugene Richards and Larry Towell were also big influences. Dru Donovan is a photographer I admire a lot. She’s more of a conceptual photographer, but she has done some portraits that have stayed in my mind for a long time. She did a project in which she asked men from the Bronx to re-enact their ‘stop and frisk’ experiences with the NYPD. It was a collaborative project, the police officers were also played by the men’s friends. For me this was a powerful and refreshing way to give life to an incredibly important topic. It’s a big issue in France too, where the colour of your skin continues to determine how much interaction you’ll have with the police.

Do you have a wish list for future projects?

SM 

I am growing frustrated with the limitations of ​print as a means to showcase work. We sometimes oversimplify, or second guess the type of art our readers relate to. I wish we took more chances. I would like to see work showcased in a more dynamic way, exposing our readers to different ways of experiencing photography and photojournalism. A good example is the 360-degree videos The New York Times are doing. It’s this series of short, immersive segments offering everyone a front row seat to the lives of others. The form of presentation directs us to think about stories differently. For instance, many stories we publish in print don’t translate well online. I’m also interested in using virtual reality on hard news topics, though this format requires time and a willingness to take part in someone else’s struggles. The side effect is that it sometimes leaves me feeling terribly voyeuristic, in a way that maybe a documentary wouldn’t. The audience for photography is far larger than our readership, so offering different perspectives will surely create more reach. It would be great to have a place to highlight emerging talent and mentor photographers living in more isolated environments. Many photographers live in places where media outlets don’t often assign, and museums are less likely to include photography in their exhibitions. All in all, there needs to be more space for visual storytelling.

LC 

LUCY CONTICELLO (b. 1973, IT) is a photo editor who has worked both freelance and for publications including The New York Times and The International Herald Tribune. For the past five years she has been the Director of Photography at M – Le magazine du Monde. SABINE MIRLESSE (b. 1986, US) is an artist and writer whose work has been the subject of features in The British Journal of Photography, Time Magazine’s Lightbox, The New Yorker, and M – Le magazine du Monde. In 2013 she was chosen as an emerging photographer by The Magenta Foundation, and she has written for The Paris Review, BOMB Magazine, Art in America, and Aperture. Her monograph As if it Should Have Been a Quarry was published by Damiani in 2013. She lives and works in Paris.


Unexpected Marriages

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Roger Ballen Celebrating Startling Collaborations

Ă— Asger Carlsen


51

71

91

ROLE MODELS Text by Kim Knoppers

HOTEL IMMAGINE Text by Jรถrg Colberg

USSR IN CONSTRUCTION Text by David Campany

111

155

175

MONSANTO: A PHOTOGRAPHIC INVESTIGATION Text by Hinde Haest

STUMP Text by Stanley Wolukau-Wanambwa

STONED MOON Text by Helen Hsu

195

215

VIRTUAL JIHADI Text by Mirjam Kooiman

WHITEWASH Text by Mirjam Kooiman

PROPAGANDA

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51.Simon Menner 71.Simone Donati 91.USSR in Construction 111.Mathieu Asselin 155.Christopher Anderson 175.Robert Rauschenberg 195.Wafaa Bilal 215. Harit Srikhao

PROPAGANDA

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PROPAGANDA


Alternative Facts

Text: Marcel Feil Images: Sarah Maple

A common saying goes that in times of war the truth is the first casualty. But if we take the liberty of turning the saying around, does sacrificing the truth put us into a state of war? With the inauguration of Donald Trump as the forty-fifth president of the United States this question suddenly acquires a new urgency. PROPAGANDA

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The fact that the word ‘propaganda’ is derived from a Catholic organization whose goal was the winning of people for the faith offers an interesting perspective on the visual tradition of the Catholic Church, Christianity as a whole, and religion in general. For almost any religion, for any religious conviction, visual communication is essential. Members of church organizations are recognizable by the fact that they wear uniforms that give them a position and status. In reality, these are visual instruments designed to reinforce a fallacious appeal to authority. A large proportion of art history, too, can be seen as religious propaganda, certainly in a period when most of the community of faith was illiterate. Paintings, frescos and sculptures portraying stories from the bible were essential, as the biblia pauperum, or ‘pauper’s bible’, to religious faith and to the experience of countless ordinary people. This was a powerful example of visual propaganda, reaching its highpoint in the use of the cross, the ultimate and phenomenally effective symbol of Christianity. From

PROPAGANDA

a commercial point of view the cross can be characterized as a successful logo that has positioned the religious brand. In that sense there is no fundamental difference between a cross, a crescent moon, a swastika, a hammer and sickle, a red-and-yellow shell, an apple with a bite taken out of it or the stars and stripes. The unambiguous use of such symbols/logos, along with posters, books, films, adverts etc., belongs to that part of the propagandistic armoury known as push propaganda, since it spreads unilaterally from a source of information towards the target audience. There is little further influence on how the information is perceived. It mainly takes the form of white propaganda, in that the source of the information is known. In fact, the logo serves to remove any possible doubt about the identity of the source. Others can take advantage of this and deliberately pretend to be someone else (usually an opponent). It is a proven tactic in propaganda, which is then called

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black propaganda. Alongside push propaganda there is pull propaganda. The citizen chooses, consciously but undoubtedly also unconsciously, to imbibe certain propaganda as a result of goal-oriented information trends. It is precisely the non-emphatic, artful way in which information is passed on and the often virtual untraceability of the sender that make pull propaganda one of the most effective ways of influencing public opinion, partly because people, in the ideal scenario, have the impression that they themselves have formed the opinion concerned. Nowadays black pull propaganda, carefully combined with traditional forms of propaganda (white and push) is one of the best-tested methods of steering the population, especially commercially and politically – a population referred to as ‘the market’ or ‘the electorate’ respectively. One telling example that can be taken as illustrative of a broader political tendency is to be found in late-twentieth-century Italy, the Italy of Silvio Berlusconi, brilliantly portrayed in this issue by photographer Simone Donati. Berlusconi already had a hugely successful career as an industrialist behind him when, in about 1993, he founded Forza Italia – a movement, not a political party – which at first deliberately placed itself outside the

establishment and set itself up as the voice of the people with the aim of changing Italian governmental culture fundamentally. Italy must be run like a business. After his election as prime minister in 1994 he led three cabinets, with various ups and downs. Critics, especially those on the left of the political spectrum, denounced his repeated involvement in corruption scandals, his obstruction of freedom of expression and press freedom as a result of his ownership of huge media concerns, his conflicts of interest, whether in politics or in business, and his countless sexual escapades. Berlusconi’s opponents criticized him fiercely for his hold on the media. His television stations were the most popular in Italy. In Hotel Immagine, Simone Donati shows convincingly how Berlusconi, in gaining a grip on the Italian people, made crafty use of his power as an autocratic media tycoon who mixed shallow popular entertainment (how many bikini-clad women can a nation take?) and the almost religious status of football (Berlusconi owned not just media organizations but AC Milan) with the symbols and rituals of the Catholic Church. In a sense he ruled like a classic Roman emperor, keeping the people quiet with a modern-day all-in package of ‘bread and circuses’ and meanwhile followed his own private agenda.

There is no fundamental difference between a cross, a crescent moon, a swastika, a hammer and sickle, a red-and-yellow shell, an apple with a bite taken out of it or the stars and stripes. PROPAGANDA

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Sarah Maple – Brexit My Brexit series, is a staged series of photographs based around the language used during the Brexit campaign. Over the spring/summer of 2016, I began to notice a repetition of particular slogans in the media that spread across the country. Slogans such as ‘send them back’, ‘take back control’ and ‘I want my country back’. I have collected such slogans, and I am in the process of creating a new humorous photography series including these texts. I am a British Muslim and have always been extremely proud to be born in the UK. 2016 has made me think about what exactly British values are. During the Brexit campaign, many people voiced a feeling of nostalgia for ‘the good old days’. I am interested in what idea of Britain people would like to return to and if this could ever be feasible in the modern age. I would like to explore how when discussing an idea of ‘returning to British values’ this appeared to be at the expense of immigrants in the UK. In my practice I often use humour as a Trojan horse to get an idea across. This series will be a humorous and ironic twist on the idea of quintessential Britain. The refugee crisis inspired my Go Home globe. I was increasingly frustrated by a sense of entitlement many people voiced when it came to accepting refugees. There was an idea that these people were coming to take away something that was ‘ours’, when we were only born in safe countries by complete luck.

Sarah Maple (b. 1986, UK) completed a BA in Fine Art from Kingston University, and in the same year won the 2017 ‘4 New Sensations’ award for emerging artists, run by The Saatchi Gallery. Sarah’s work has been exhibited internationally including at Tate Britain, London; A.I.R Gallery, New York and AGO, Canada. She has also been invited to speak for the Tate, Amnesty International and Women Inc. In February 2017 she was the artist in resident at KochxBos, Amsterdam for the solo exhibition Power to the People? and with the Sky Academy Arts scholarship, she will create a new body of work about ‘Freedom of Speech’ in 2017. In 2015 she released her first book You Could Have Done This. Marcel Feil (b. 1968, NL) is Deputy Artistic Director at Foam and Editor of Foam Magazine.

PROPAGANDA

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Simon Menner

Role Models


Perception is the Battlefield by Kim Knoppers

Our perception has become the most important battlefield of the twenty-first century, and fear in the form of terror might be the predominant weapon. – Simon Menner

Simon Menner increasingly seems to be becoming an obsessive archivist who, by intently studying existing images, connecting them with other images and focusing on specific details, attempts to get to grips with complex histories and our perception of them. With his book Top Secret. Bilder aus den Archiven der Staatssicherheit he became well known to lovers of photobooks and disreputable in the eyes of a handful of historians. In that book he showed, with the aid of archival photos, how the secret services of the German Democratic Republic (1949-1990) used ridiculous disguises such as false beards and fake bellies to help them spy on their fellow citizens. Last winter NRW Forum in Düsseldorf presented Menner’s extensive project Terror Komplex. In it he investigates, based on online footage, the various strategies of self-expression used by Islamist terror groups. The paradox of an invisible war that is continually communicated in visual form is the central theme of Terror Komplex. The series Role Models (2016), now presented as a portfolio in Foam Magazine, is part of that project.

PROPAGANDA

In Role Models Menner repeatedly places two images side by side. The first is from an Islamist propaganda video, the second is the result of a quick search of the web for an image with the same pose or gesture. By freezing IS videos and studying them in relation to images from the global media, Menner attempts to grasp the iconography of IS and how it is perceived. Skilfully made propaganda videos distributed online by Al-Hayat, the public relations department of Islamic State, are a mix of heroic gestures from the Islamic vocabulary and poses and gestures from low-brow Hollywood films and Western news items. They terrify those who find the ideas of IS despicable but encourage those who sympathise with IS ideology. They act as one final seductive prod in the ‘right’ direction. This sophisticated visual language is intended to reach a specific target group, namely Western media and young people who have grown up in the West and are attracted to the caliphate. Role Models makes painfully clear how ideologically diverse groups are growing closer together in their visual expression via the same medium. This is not to say IS is unilaterally copying Western media. Both groups take clichés and stereotypical behaviour from an extensive visual canon that is anchored in our visual memory – a visual canon in which symbols, meanings, reality and perception are intertwined and nothing can any longer be attributed to the original.

More on page 69 >

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Simon Menner (b. 1978, DE) received an MFA from the Universität der Künste Berlin in 2007. He has exhibited worldwide in group and solo exhibitions including at Goethe Institute Prague (2014) NRW-Forum, Düsseldorf (2016) and Dubai Design District, Dubai (2016). In 2014-2015 he was an Artist-in-Residence at the Goethe Institute Prague, and his monograph Top Secret was shortlisted for the First Photobook of the Year Award at Paris Photo (2013). He currently lives and works in Berlin.

Kim Knoppers (b. 1976, NL) is an art historian (University of Amsterdam) and a curator at Foam. Since 2011, she has worked on exhibitions by Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin, Anne de Vries, Jan Hoek, Lorenzo Vitturi and Jan Rosseel to name but a few. Kim is founder of Artists’ Recipes, which explores the intersection of art and food. She lives and works in Amsterdam, but also stays in Istanbul on a regular basis.

All Images © Simon Menner

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Simone Donati

Hotel Immagine


Faith Exposed by Jörg Colberg

Robert Frank's The Americans, the famed acerbic visual take on the United States of the 1950s, is widely admired in the world of photography. There have, though, been surprisingly few followers. Seldom have photographers been willing to train their lenses on countries or societies with the idea of unmasking larger injustices (whether perceived or real) in this subjective fashion. It's not clear to me why this is the case, given that many other equally well-established bodies of work – for example, typologies – have found many imitators. Explanations include the not unlikely possibility that in the day and age of Gurskys, Shermans, or Princes selling at mega auctions for millions of dollars, the world of photography has essentially become absorbed by the very establishment of which it used to be a lot more critical. ‘I believe it's important to address themes [such] as politics or social themes,’ Italian Simone Donati wrote in an email to me. ‘I think the responsibility is to address these issues from new perspectives and with different eyes.’ This is the Frankian model, combining a sense of urgency with bold ambition. In Donati's case, the subject was to be Italy, his native country, more specifically the Berlusconi era Italy that in some ways foreshadowed what was to happen in the United States in 2016: a flashy billionaire with an impossibly orange face and very dubious behaviour (to phrase it very mildly) making it into the

PROPAGANDA

country's highest office. Donati started out photographing Berlusconi's supporters for a year and a half, producing Welcome to Berlusconistan. On an assignment for Vanity Fair Italy, he then moved on to a series on San Giovanni Rotondo, the town of Saint Padre Pio. ‘Looking at these two series,’ he noted, ‘made me realise how I was drawn to look in places and situations where people meet to follow something or somebody, to the concept of 'faith,' [whether] political or religious.’ Hotel Immagine was being born (the project inherited its title from the name of a hotel in San Giovanni Rotondo – ‘immagine’ is Italian for ‘image’). The faith Donati was looking for could be found outside religion and politics as well, in areas such as sports or entertainment. He said he viewed the work ‘more like a cultural and anthropological commentary,’ being ‘mainly interested in these themes as a person, and then as a photographer.’ Frankian echoes yet again, if not, as I should make clear, in the photographic style – Donati's just very slightly detached colour square photographs are a far cry from Frank's visceral black and white 35mm frames, but in its approach, where the intense personal engagement provides the main motivator, connecting seemingly disjointed threads into a unified whole. In the book, which I would consider as giving the photographs its best form (again, much like The Americans), Donati uses a set

More on page 89 >

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Simone Donati (b. 1977, IT) is a documentary photographer whose recent work focuses on Italy’s political and social situation. He is a member of the collective Terra Project. Simone is a former finalist of the Sony World Photography Awards (2008) and has been published in magazines including Der Spiegel, Le Monde Magazine, Monocle, Newsweek, and Vanity Fair. His photographs have been part of solo and group shows in Italy and abroad. Hotel Immagine is his first self-published book (2015).

Jörg Colberg (b. 1968, DE) is a self-taught writer and photographer; he is also an educator at Hartford Art School. Since its inception in 2002, his website Conscientious has become one of the most widely read and influential blogs dedicated to contemporary fine-art photography. His writing has been published in British Journal of Photography and Creative Review amongst many others.

All Images © Simone Donati

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USSR in Construction

Issue 12, 1933


Infrastructure by David Campany

Propaganda is never convincing in itself. It works only through the suppression of demonstrable facts. It does not need to be believed, only to dominate. As Gary Kasparov, the former Soviet chess world master and political dissident tweeted recently: ‘The point of modern propaganda isn’t only to misinform or push an agenda. It is to exhaust your critical thinking, to annihilate it.’

freely with the new technologies and materials of the modern era. By the time the first issue of USSR in Construction appeared in 1930, Stalin had already denounced the Constructivists as bourgeois. However, he retained their graphic innovations, because pictures in extravagant layout could communicate with a population that was still largely illiterate. The magazine’s text was minimal, its pages dominated by a swirling interplay of photos and graphic devices, with elaborate foldouts and colour overlays.

The monthly illustrated USSR in Construction (1930-1941) was the flagship publication of Joseph Stalin’s Soviet State. Issued in Russian, French, Spanish, German and English editions, it was one of the most spectacular and influential propaganda magazines of the last century. It channelled the graphic and photographic innovations of the avantgarde that had emerged in the 1920s, deploying huge budgets to visualize industrial might and progress. Its photographers, writers and designers remain the most wellknown of the Soviet era, although USSR in Construction may not be the work for which we prefer to remember them. Figures such as Alexander Rodchenko, El Lissitzky, Varvara Stepanova, Soloman Telingater and Valentina Khodasevich began their creative lives in the wake of the 1917 Russian revolution. Under the banner of Constructivism, they forged bold new directions in everything from painting, photography, film and page layout to industrial design, sculpture, theatre, architecture and poetry. Rejecting the tried and tested, they experimented

Alexander Rodchenko was particularly versatile. He had started as a painter but produced ground-breaking work in many fields of art and design, becoming the key spokesman for the experimental and revolutionary ideas of the 1920s. But in the following decade he came under enormous state pressure. He contributed to several issues of USSR in Construction, both as a photographerand graphic designer. Issue 12, from 1933, was almost entirely his work. It showcased the building of the Baltic-White Sea Canal, the largest civil engineering project of the period. It made a continuous 227km transport route connecting the White Sea to the Baltic Sea, via Lakes Onega and Ladoga.

PROPAGANDA

More on page 109 >

It was built by forced labour. The 126,000 workers were mainly political prisoners from Stalin’s notorious Gulags. ‘THEY WERE

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USSR in Construction was a photographic propaganda journal published between 1930 to 1941, and briefly in 1949. It was published in Russian, French, English, German and Spanish to inform the rest of the world about the rapid construction and industrialization occurring within the Soviet Union, depicting itself as a leading industrial power. All Images courtesy of Hoover Institution Archives, Stanford University

PROPAGANDA

David Campany (b. 1967, UK) is a writer, curator and artist. He has written books including A Handful of Dust (2015), Walker Evans: the magazine work (2014), and The Open Road: photography and the American road trip (2014). David is a past recipient of the ICP Infinity Award and the Royal Photographic Society’s award for writing. He co-curated Between Film and Photography with Joachim Naudts, on show at FoMu Antwerp from June 26th 2017.

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Mathieu Asselin

Monsanto: A Photographic Investigation


Tomorrowland by Hinde Haest

Mathieu Asselin spent four years travelling around the USA and Vietnam, documenting the social and ecological impact of the Monsanto Corporation. The American agrochemicals company has become notorious, primarily for its production of PCBs, Agent Orange, herbicide Roundup, and genetically modified seeds. Over the years, Monsanto has been steadily incorporating other agribusinesses, and filing patent violation claims to secure its monopoly on the food industry. In his book Monsanto®: a Photographic Investigation, Asselin coupled his own photographic documentation of the socio-economic impact of company practices with found archival footage. The book thus provides a visual inventory of major health and safety violations throughout the company’s history. The material is organised in four topical chapters, starting with chemical waste dumping in the town of Anniston, moving on to the consequences of the use of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, followed by the Sturgeon chemical waste spill and ending with the prosecution of local farmers for violation of patents on geneticallymodified crops. The footage is haunting: we see devastated landscapes, ghost towns, stories of ruined farmers and portraits of both deceased and deformed family members of civilians and soldiers who were exposed to Monsanto chemicals.

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Besides accumulating evidence of the company’s wrongdoings, Asselin also included advertising, commercials and memorabilia produced by Monsanto over the years to formulate a favourable corporate image. The book opens with an image of the edible gingerbread house from Hansel and Gretel. It is an ad for Ethavan, an artificial flavouring product marketed by Monsanto from the 1950s. Artificial foodstuffs and chemical engineering are packaged in the sweet wrapper of nostalgia and childhood memories under the slogan, ‘Serving industry... which serves mankind.’ The trope of the home – symbolic of shelter and the heart of family life – continues to lace Monsanto’s marketing offensive. This is illustrated in the book by screenshots and a QR code of a commercial from the 1960s that features the ‘Monsanto House of the Future’. It was a model home located in the futuristic Tomorrowland at Anaheim’s Disneyland, from 1957 to 1967. The house was entirely made of plastic: one of Monsanto’s prime products and, according to the advertisement, the material from which the future would be built. The campaign embodies the modernist promise of a perfectly designed world in which nature obeys man-made laws. But like most fairy tales before Disneyfication, the real story takes a dark turn. Asselin relentlessly picks apart the tropes

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Screen shot from a MonsantoÂŽ TV commercial produced for India.


MonsantoÂŽ Matchbox, 2014.


Excerpt from a 1977's MonsantoÂŽ ad.

Life is chemical. And with chemicals, companies like MonsantoÂŽ are working to help improve the quality of life.


Mathieu Asselin (b. 1973, FR/VE) began his career working on film productions in Caracas, Venuzuela. His work has been featured in GEO, Freitag, Paris Match, among others, whilst he has exhibited in New York City, Miami, Washington, and Caracas. His project Monsanto. A Photographic Investigation has been awarded in 2016 with the First Prize at the Dummy Award of the FotoBook Festival in Kassel, and a Special Mention at the Luma Rencontres Dummy Book Award in Arles. As a book, the project will be published in summer 2017 by Actes Sud and Verlag Kettler. The project will debut at the Rencontres de la Photographie in Arles, in July 2017. Mathieu Asselin currently lives and works in New York City.

Hinde Haest (b. 1987, NL) is a curator at Foam who has worked on exhibitions including Hiroshi Sugimoto – Black Box and Stéphanie Solinas – Dominique Lambert / Le Pourquoi Pas?. Previously, she worked on the Stephen Shore retrospective at Amsterdam’s Huis Marseille and as assistant curator of photographs at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. She holds an MSc from SOAS, an MA from University College London, and has written for Metropolis M and Aperture amongst others. Hinde lives and works in Amsterdam.

All Images © Mathieu Asselin

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2010 ©  Pete Souza/The White House

Propagating the Self

By Mirjam Kooiman

From ancient Greek and Roman coins with emblematic portraits of emperors to painted images emphasising the sitter’s wealth, sovereignty, or military might: until well into the 19th Century, painters and sculptors played a significant role in the expression and maintenance of political authority. Focus Chapter

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TIME, November 2016. Photograph by Nadav Kander for TIME. TIME cover provided by and used with the permission of Time Inc.


the Divided States of America’ immediately went viral, generating lively yet speculative Internet-based discussions. Comparisons were drawn with a 1941 TIME cover of Adolf Hitler – himself named ‘Person of the Year’ in 1938 – who is also pictured on an antique chair, glancing aside and casting a dark shadow on the wall behind him. Much is made of Trump’s unconventional pose; turning away with his face half-smothered by shadow, which according to many online commentators suggests a sinister split personality. Even Trump’s seat is thoroughly analysed. Do its signs of wear and tear represent a tattered throne? Can the embroidered fleur-de-lis on the Louis XV chair be interpreted as a ‘subtle tip of the hat to a monarch who showed little interest in politics’? Shot in Trump’s gilded New York penthouse at the summit of Trump Tower, Kander was asked to wear cloth covers over his shoes, so as to protect the shiny marble floor and plush cream carpets. This anecdote at least gives some context to the chair, which is part of the apartment’s ostentatious Versailles-inspired interior. The only word from the photographer himself can be found on Instagram, where he declared his intention to ‘make a portrait that respects this crossroad in his-

tory with no political view of my own’. In an interview about his portraiture more generally, Kander describes a good portrait as one ‘that asks as many answers as it answers.’ Mission accomplished.

The invisible Sheikh Despite politicians’ strategic and fanatic use of mass- and social media, invisibility can also successfully shape a leader’s image. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is the self-styled Caliph of the so-called Islamic State, as well as a self-proclaimed descendant of the Prophet. Followers are encouraged to surrender everything to him, be it their money or their lives. However, only two confirmed photos of him existed before he appeared in a video delivering a sermon in Mosul in July 2014. Even when speaking to his own fighters, Baghdadi reportedly wears a mask to conceal his identity, lending him the nickname ‘the invisible Sheikh’. Nevertheless, thousands around the world pledge allegiance to his rule, killing infidels in his name and acting under his command despite being thousands of miles away. His life in the shadows is often explained by his status as one of the world’s most-wanted

Using different strategies to propagate their image online, today’s political leaders are definitely exploring social media as a tool to ‘befriend’ voters. Or, at least to let their message come across powerfully via tweets that summarize public opinions loud and clear without any need for politically correct explanation. Propagating the Self

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men. Some presume he has already been killed by a coalition air strike, but through ISIS’ highly effective recruitment propaganda, his audio-recorded messages continue to spread. Just as Allah is unrepresentable, al-Baghdadi fosters in a presence beyond sight. Michel Foucault, writing on disciplinary power, notes that ‘this power must give itself an instrument of a permanent, exhaustive, omnipresent surveillance, capable of rendering everything visible, on the condition that it rendered itself invisible’ (Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, 1975). He continues: ‘It must be like a gaze without a face that transforms the social body into a field of perception, thousands of eyes posted everywhere...’ Using different strategies to propagate their image online, today’s political leaders are definitely exploring social media as a tool to ‘befriend’ voters. Or, at least, to let their message come across powerfully via tweets that summarize public opinions loud and clear without any need for politically correct explanation. Others seem to use their imagery on social media as a form of self-justification, constructing a make-believe world that is hardly approved by anyone but themselves. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s method of an invisible online presence harks back to the historical example of the almighty emperor that is hardly ever seen by the people. Instead, the emperor appears on coins like a symbol, and his presence is felt through forces of power that dominate society in his name. If any conclusion can be drawn at all from political leaders using their online image differently, it is that – at least at first sight – they seem to undermine the autonomy of artists by shaping their propaganda. Even without photographers daring to make actual statements, it’s worth considering the different positions Pete Souza, James Nachtwey and Nadav Kander took up in the assignments discussed above. With increasing frequency, political leaders are choosing social media over official portraiture, taking back control of their own image.

Mirjam Kooiman

Mirjam Kooiman (b. 1990, NL) is a curator at Foam, where she has worked on shows including Harley Weir – Boundaries, Ai Weiwei – #SafePassage as well as the Foam Talent exhibition. She holds a BA in Art History and an MA in Curating from the University of Amsterdam, with a special interest in postcolonial approaches in the arts and museum studies. She previously served as a curator-in-training at the photography collection of Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum. Mirjam lives and works in Amsterdam.

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Image from the series Find Fix Finish, 2015 © Clément Lambelet, courtesy of the artist

Signs and Symbols

By Hinde Haest

Since its very invention, the medium of photography has been avidly mobilized for propaganda purposes. Although the contemporary propagator has since changed character, the premise remains the same: the visualization of an ideal reality. The inherent realism of photography makes it the perfect tool to envision an alternative world as if it were the status quo. Focus Chapter

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Concealed Matter(s) 03, 2016 © Anouk Kruithof, courtesy of the artist


morphs them into abstract sculptures. Besides deforming the icon and distorting its original message, her work also raises issues of privacy violation that are disregarded in the service of surveillance. Behind the abstractions are the identities of real people that have been unceremoniously posted on Instagram.

By singling out signs of normalcy in what was to be a carefully curated show of military strength, Lambelet looks for loopholes

Image from the series Two Donkeys in a War Zone, 2015-2016 © Clément Lambelet, courtesy of the artist

The dangerous discrepancy between physical reality and its visual abstraction is at the core of Find Fix Finish (2015), a book by Clément Lambelet. It is entirely composed of leaked U.S. army documents analysing drone attacks on terrorist targets in Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia. The graphic representations of people and places are rendered in aesthetically pleasing compositions. The book reads like a cartoon, and the colourful charts and code names resemble those in video games. A destructive explosion is reduced to a simple smoke puff, casualties are abstracted into isotypes. Through the abstraction of violence,

what Lambelet calls the ‘art’ of war, the indexical relation of the depicted to its real-life collateral becomes lost in translation. Following Find Fix Finish, Clément Lambelet studied drone strike videos produced by the U.S., Afghan and British armies that were disseminated online to propagate the war on terror. The footage of strikes on alleged terrorist targets coincidentally features signs of ordinary life amid the explosions. The book that is yet to be released takes its title from one such instance: Two Donkeys in a War Zone. Amidst a U.S. army attack on an ISIS camp, the infrared camera registered two donkeys quietly witnessing the violence. By zooming in on details, Lambelet’s imagery inverts the abstraction that lies at the heart of war propaganda.

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in the visual justification of warfare. Flipping through the book, we stop and ask to whom the vague outlines in the zoomed-in images belong. Whether it is indeed a terrorist, or a child with what looks a lot like a football? What happened to him or her after the moment caught on camera? By singling out the individual, the normal, the everyday in what would otherwise remain an abstraction of warfare, Lambelet unpicks the workings of propagandistic imagery simply by enhancing it to abnormal proportions. Lambelet simultaneously reveals and makes use of the way in which technology curbs our understanding of things that can in reality not be reduced to algorithms or transcribed into digits. As theorised by Taussig and shown by Simon, Kruithof and Lambelet, visual language enables us to give form to inherently abstract concepts. Paradoxically, this requires the concept to be phrased in terms of abstractions. It is for its perfect ambiguity between the real and the imagined, between detail and abstraction, that the medium of photography has historically been both the enemy and quintessential tool for propaganda. By isolating, enlarging and contextualising visual information sourced from an ever-growing archive of images and text, the aforementioned artists uproot and interfere with the semiotics of contemporary propaganda.

Hinde Haest (b. 1987, NL) is a curator at Foam who has worked on exhibitions including Hiroshi Sugimoto – Black Box and Stéphanie Solinas – Dominique Lambert / Le Pourquoi Pas?. Previously, she worked on the Stephen Shore retrospective at Amsterdam’s Huis Marseille and as assistant curator of photographs at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. She holds an MSc from SOAS, an MA from University College London, and has written for Metropolis M and Aperture amongst others. Hinde lives and works in Amsterdam.

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Untitled (Your taste is in your mouth), 1995 © Barbara Kruger, courtesy of the artist and Mary Boone Gallery, NYC

Appetizing

By Kim Knoppers

The rise of the multinational monopoly has seen food’s nutritional value overshadowed by its aesthetic qualities. In recent years, photographs of impossibly perfect food have moved from advertisement billboards to the online profiles of ‘foodies’; selling a lifestyle that erases the true complexity of the food industry, whilst simultaneously declaring ‘authenticity’. Focus Chapter

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Efficacy Testing Stream, 2015 © Discipula, courtesy of the artists


2010, McDonald’s launched its veggie burger in Germany with a playful photo of a cow composed of vegetables including red pepper, potato, carrot and lettuce. It was an attempt to make a health-conscious target group forget that what the multinational sells is industrially produced food that has little to do with purity or authenticity.

The series Images Transfers (2012) by Dutch artist Anne de Vries consists of two still lifes of gleaming, flawless supermarket fruit. One shows an apple, a pear and a banana, the other an apple, an avocado and a lemon. Photographed with a digital camera, the image travelled via lens, chip, cable, computer components and software to its ultimate form as photo paper hanging in a space. Each digital print comes with a text summarizing its own production process. His work makes explicit the transformation of three pieces of fruit into a digital image via an optical lens. It becomes clear that an image of fruit requires an extensive technical and logistical infrastructure. The simplicity of the image is overshadowed by a stream of information that unravels both the production process and the way images are circulated in the globalizing economy.

Efficacy Testing Stream (2015) - Installation view at bBunkier Sztuki, Krakow Photomonth 2016 © Discipula, courtesy of the artists

A seductive mainstream image has emerged that celebrates pure food in all its perfection. Boosted by the rise of communications technology and new media, this image is inserted between us and the reality surrounding food, with all the social, economic and political issues that go along with it. Artists gnaw and nibble at this mainstream image and in various ways provide a counterweight to it. Last year saw the publication of the book Real Food by British photographer Martin Parr, a collection of brightly coloured photos of food he made all over the world. Parr thrusts an unfiltered reality in our faces: charred chicken, chewed gum and fatty pink sausages, all overexposed and in close up. It’s an abomination to the healthy hipster who dominates Instagram with photos of avocado on toast, traditional banana bread and fermented cauliflower with sesame seeds. Parr’s fascination with unadorned food dates from 1995. In his British Food he presented an almost encyclopaedic survey of what food in the UK really looks like. Parr’s

photos tell a story that gets beyond the food industry’s stage-managed depictions, a story in which food is an expression of identity for much of the British population. As Parr points out, ‘If you go to the supermarket and buy a package of food and look at the photo on the front, the food never looks like that inside does it? That is a fundamental lie we are sold everyday.’ Replace supermarket with Instagram and this is as true now as it was then.

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you thinking. Don’t be fooled. Experts will notice that the cow has no ear tag. Brandsma regards such tags as a violation of animal rights and is reconciled to the fact that this means he loses twenty per cent of his EU subsidy. Furthermore, the cows have access to the meadow for six months of the year, which means they are among the thirty per cent of Dutch cows that can graze freely on grass. Wildschut took one of the other photos at Plantlab in Den Bosch. It shows rows of sweet pepper plants bathing in purple light, supported under their axils by strings attached to the ceiling. Not our idea of how a lovely juicy red pepper grows under the dazzling sun of Mexico, yet this way, without pesticides, ten times as many peppers can be produced using ninety percent less water and creating none of the CO2 emissions that result from overseas transport. Although we are aware of the seductive methods and marketing strategies of the food industry, we still, against our better judgement, prefer to believe in the romantic image of pure and authentic food. The true situation surrounding food production is complex. It is all bound up with economies of scale, with industrial production, with the function of images in a complex system of image circulation, but also with the innovative measures adopted by industrial-looking companies that do in fact take account of the needs of animals and the environment. The true situation is carefully kept out of sight by the food industry. The one-sided, romanticized image of pure and authentic food is sustained by a tango between multinationals and consumers. This can be a barrier to the solving of the enormous problems and abuses surrounding food. The critical approach through which Parr, De Vries, Discipula and Wildschut, each in their own way, provide a counterweight to the mainstream images of food means they are actively stepping onto the dance floor.

Kim Knoppers (b. 1976, NL) is an art historian (University of Amsterdam) and a curator at Foam. Since 2011, she has worked on exhibitions by Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin, Anne de Vries, Jan Hoek, Lorenzo Vitturi and Jan Rosseel to name but a few. Kim is founder of Artists’ Recipes, which explores the intersection of art and food. She lives and works in Amsterdam, but also stays in Istanbul on a regular basis.

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Christopher Anderson

Stump


White Noise by Stanley Wolukau-Wanambwa

The pseudo-events which rush by in spectacular dramatizations have not been lived by those informed of them; moreover they are lost in the inflation of their hurried replacement at every throb of the spectacular machinery. – Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle

As John Heilemann – Anderson’s companion on the campaign trail – notes in the book Stump: ‘the pictures are iconic...but also extraordinarily (often uncomfortably) intimate’ and they are ‘like politics itself, exaggerated and occasionally grotesque’. The photographs also recapitulate photography’s complex imbrication with the representation of power, echoing Mathew Brady’s 1850 publication The Gallery of Illustrious Americans.

Christopher Anderson’s series Stump comprises sixty-six loosely typological portraits made at political rallies over the US presidential election cycles of 2008 and 2012. The series also comprises a smaller number of formally distinctive portraits, candid scenes and attenuated landscapes. But the work’s central component is the long series of (mostly) black and white portraits, which are obsessively focused in around the head, so that they do not so much depict figures but tightly cropped facial features systematically stripped of any discernible ‘ground’.

Brady’s short series sought to produce an irreducible reflection of the great stature of the American nation through the emphatic depiction of twelve of its leading, white male public figures. It comprised two presidents, four senators, three generals, an artist, an historian, a minister and a poet. Each portrait mimicked the figurative proportions of a sculptural bust, and each subject endeavoured to gaze beyond the edges of the photographic frame so that they might be ‘apprehended’, as Alan Trachtenberg wrote, ‘in a moment of pretended timelessness’.

The vast majority of Anderson’s photographs depict either politicians, delegates, party members or public figures who are otherwise variously involved in the production of political theatre. Thus Anderson gives us a mirroring of paternal zeal in the unblinking eyes of Mitt Romney’s son Josh, or the vulpine rictus of a glacial smile on the face of Newt Gingrich’s wife Callista that never threatens to touch her blue eyes.

We might think through the resonances between these two projects by way of time, and the qualitative sense of its profound transformation in the intervening one hundred and sixty three years between the publication of Brady’s book and Anderson’s. Brady’s portraits not only required long exposures, and therefore stillness, but they were (and are) emblematic of a mode of slow contemplative seeing utterly at odds with

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Christopher Anderson (b. 1970, CA) is New York Magazine’s first ever photographer-in-residence. He has published four photobooks including Son (2013), and has exhibited worldwide at institutions such as C/O Berlin, Berlin; Magnum Gallery, Paris and Milk Gallery, New York. The series STUMP has been published by Editorial RM, Barcelona, Spain. He is a previous recipient of both the Robert Capa Gold Medal (2000), and World Press Photo (2008). He is also a member of Magnum Photos, and currently lives and works in New York.

Stanley Wolukau-Wanambwa (b. 1980, UK) is a photographer, writer, and editor for the online gallery space The Great Leap Sideways. He is a faculty member in the photography department at Purchase College, SUNY. After completing a BA in Philosophy and French from Oxford University, he pursued an MFA at Virginia Commonwealth University. Stanley has written essays for monographs by Paul Graham, Vanessa Winship and George Georgiou, and was recently the artist-in-residence at Lightworks in Rochester, New York (2015).

All Images Š Christopher Anderson

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Robert Rauschenberg

Stoned Moon


Tripping on Stoned Moon by Helen Hsu

NASA invited Robert Rauschenberg to witness the 16 July 1969 launch of Apollo 11, the first mission to land humans on the moon. The experience inspired thirty-four lithographs executed at the unflinchingly experimental Los Angeles atelier Gemini G.E.L. Nodding to the process of its making, the series title Stoned Moon celebrates lithographic stones, while winking at sixties counterculture and the multitude of lyrical musings on the celestial body. These qualities of polyvalence and open access also characterize the Stoned Moon images. For Rauschenberg, a longtime space exploration enthusiast, observing the moonshot was a kindred opportunity. His silkscreen paintings of 1962–64 already featured astronauts, rocket boosters, and landing capsules. He called his beloved dogs Moon and Laika (whose namesake was the first animal to orbit Earth aboard the Soviet spacecraft Sputnik 2 in 1957). Rauschenberg’s Laika gave birth to seven puppies four days before Apollo 11 launched; the fact opens a rare written account in which he affectionately noted, ‘Laika who likes barking means bark in Siberia.’ The rhythm of the phrase signals several devices paralleled in his assembly of the Stoned Moon pictures: alliteration, (slant) rhyme, repetition and its special case of doubling. Through NASA’s Art Program, Rauschenberg gained access to documentary photography, maps, charts, guides, and manuals, in addition to what he culled from mass media

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sources. Stoned Moon’s juxtaposition of free associative imagery conveys an information overload. This condition captures the technocratic accumulation of data and engineering specifications, the ginormous vehicles and their massive supporting infrastructure, that comprised the space program. Rauschenberg reflected on his project, ‘Stones opened for images of peace, discovery, and energy. Coexistence of information and sensibilities, facts of unschemed complexities.’ On the one hand he embraced this moment of hope and triumph — consider the resplendent rising verticality of the bright spectrum coloured Sky Garden (p. 183), which at 7 1/2 feet tall was the largest hand-pulled lithograph at that time. On the other, Rauschenberg appreciated complications to the narrative. After all, the awe-inspiring launch apotheosized the technological sublime and its deep ambivalence. The sublime shuttles dizzyingly between wonder and dread, entangling beauty and danger, vitality and fatality. Outer space is also an abyss, as fertile for the imagination as it is unsuitable for human life. The experience of simultaneous extremes constituted the turbulence of the sixties that unfolded with upheavals both inspiring and terrifying. The moonshot itself could be seen as a civic diversion of Cold War geopolitics in which the space race momentarily eclipsed competitive armament. Rauschenberg exhibited an acute awareness of the event’s prehistory. At the bottom of Trust Zone (p. 181) appears the iconic

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Robert Rauschenberg (b. 1925 – d. 2008, US) was a leading figure of the pop art movement. Famous for using unconventional materials from dirt and house paint to umbrellas and car tyres, in 1964 he became the first American to win the International Grand Prize in Painting at the Venice Biennale. His work was exhibited worldwide both during his lifetime and posthumously. Rauschenberg was the subject of a recent retrospective at Tate Modern, whilst works from the Stoned Moon series form part of an ongoing exhibition at The British Museum, London.

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rena ll State ll A (Stoned Moon), 1969 Lithograph, 47 x 32 inches (119.4 x 81.3 cm) Robert Rauschenberg ©  Foundation Banner (Stoned Moon),  1969 Lithograph, 54 1/2 x 36 inches (138.4 x 91.4 cm) ©  Robert Rauschenberg Foundation

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ky Garden S (Stoned Moon), 1969 Lithograph and screenprint 89 1/4 x 42 inches (226.7 x 106.7 cm) ©  Robert Rauschenberg Foundation

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rake (Stoned Moon), 1969 B Lithograph on paper 42 x 29 inches (106.7 x 73.7 cm) ©  Robert Rauschenberg Foundation

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trawboss (Stoned Moon), S 1970 Lithograph 30 x 22 in. (76.2 x 55.88 cm)From an edition of 50 published by Gemini G.E.L., Los Angeles San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Gift of Harry W. and Mary Margaret Anderson ©  Robert Rauschenberg Foundation and Gemini G.E.L.

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pe (Stoned Moon), 1970 A Lithograph 46 x 33 in. (116.84 x 83.82 cm)From an edition of 45 published by Gemini G.E.L., Los Angeles San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Gift of Harry W. and Mary Margaret Anderson©  Robert Rauschenberg Foundation and Gemini G.E.L.

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ocal Means L (Stoned Moon), 1970Lithograph 32 3/8 x 43 5/16 inches (82.2 x 110 cm)From an edition of 11 published by Gemini

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ybrid (Stoned Moon), H 1969 Lithograph 54 1/2 x 36 inches (138.4 x 91.4 cm) ©  Robert Rauschenberg Foundation

p.182 B  ait

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G.E.L., Los Angeles Robert Rauschenberg ©  Foundation and Gemini G.E.L.

Robert Rauschenberg ©  Foundation and Gemini G.E.L.

rust Zone T (Stoned Moon), 1969 Lithograph 40 x 33 inches(101.6 x 83.8 cm) Robert Rauschenberg ©  Foundation (Stoned Moon), 1970 Lithograph, 35 1/4 in. x 26 1/4 in. (89.54 cmx 66.68 cm) From an edition of 46 published by Gemini G.E.L., Los Angeles San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Gift of Harry W. and Mary Margaret Anderson

Helen Hsu (b. 1980, USA) is Assistant Curator at the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. She co-edited and contributed to the exhibition catalogue Rauschenberg in China (2016). Previously, she served as assistant curator at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Born to Chinese immigrants, she is a graduate of Stanford University, California.

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hell (Stoned Moon), 1969 S Lithograph 32 1/8 x 26 inches (81.6 x 66 cm) ©Robert Rauschenberg Foundation

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ait (Stoned Moon), B 1970Lithograph 35 1/4 in. x 26 1/4 in. (89.54 cmx 66.68 cm) From an edition of 46 published by Gemini G.E.L., Los Angeles San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Gift of Harry W. and Mary Margaret Anderson©  Robert Rauschenberg Foundation and Gemini G.E.L.

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Wafaa Bilal

Virtual Jihadi


First Person Shooter by Mirjam Kooiman

One of the most successful video game genres is the military shooter. CounterStrike, Medal of Honor, Call of Duty and Battlefield are amongst the most popular first-person shooters (FPS), a subgenre which is centred on gun and projectile weapon-based combat through a first-person perspective; that is, the player experiences the action through the eyes of the protagonist. Ever since its arrival, this genre has attracted the attention of official state military organisations. America’s Army, the FPS platform developed by the US military, has been available for free since 2002 - launching the use of virtual environments to prime young people for enlistment.

the al-Qaeda version of the game to insert himself as a suicide bomber who, after learning of the death of his brother, is recruited by jihadis to join the hunt for Bush as an act of revenge.

In May 2003, Petrilla Entertainment released the FPS video game Quest for Saddam, in which the goal is to eliminate Iraqi soldiers and eventually to kill their leader, Saddam Hussein. The game space reveals a generic Middle Eastern setting presented as Iraq, in which the gamer – playing as an American soldier – encounters stereotypically-depicted Arabs that each bare the dictator’s face. In 2006, al-Qaeda released Night of Bush Capturing, identically modelled on Quest for Saddam but transformed into a hunt for former President George W. Bush instead. In yet another response, Iraqi-American artist Wafaa Bilal released Virtual Jihadi in March 2008. He hacked

Although a fictional video game and work of art, Bilal’s brother Haji was himself killed by an unmanned Predator drone in 2004. The drone fired at a checkpoint whilst flying over their hometown of Kufa. Bilal subsequently lost his father, who died of grief just a few weeks later. By making himself the game’s protagonist, the artist drew on his own life story to highlight the vulnerability of aggrieved individuals to recruitment by groups such as al-Qaeda, as well as how fundamentalist and political forces in both countries exploit this vulnerability for their own gain. Despite simply exposing the parallels between two belligerent forces, Bilal’s Virtual Jihadi proved open to misinterpretation. Failing to understand that it was a variation of a twice-hacked game, many commentators quickly accused the artist of supporting the assassination of President Bush, without acknowledging their own reflection in the mirror Wafaa Bilal was holding with the work. ‘I was fascinated by how the simple act of changing the skin could outrage people,’ Bilal says. ‘All of a sudden we become the hunted, not the hunter.

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Wafaa Bilal (b. 1966, IQ) is an artist and Associate Arts Professor at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. His performative and interactive works provoke dialogue about international politics and internal dynamics. Canto III, his most recent body of work, premiered in a solo booth at the New York Armory Show (2015) and consequently at the 2015 Venice Biennale. His work is found in the permanent collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Photography and the Arab Museum of Modern Art, Qatar.

Mirjam Kooiman (b. 1990, NL) is a curator at Foam, where she has worked on shows including Harley Weir – Boundaries, Ai Weiwei – #SafePassage as well as the Foam Talent exhibition. She holds a BA in Art History and an MA in Curating from the University of Amsterdam, with a special interest in postcolonial approaches in the arts and museum studies. She previously served as a curator-in-training at the photography collection of Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum. Mirjam lives and works in Amsterdam.

Images in page 191: Wafaa Bilal, concept sketches for Virtual Jihadi, video game, 2008. Sketches by James Kloiber. © Wafaa Bilal. Courtesy Driscoll Babcock Galleries. Images in pages 192-206: Wafaa Bilal, still from Virtual Jihadi, video game, 2008. © Wafaa Bilal. Courtesy Driscoll Babcock Galleries.

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Harit Srikhao

Whitewash


Infected Memories by Mirjam Kooiman

Bangkok, 28 April 2010. As I was walking home

from a cram school downtown, a clash happened between soldiers and protestors around the monument just in front of my house. It stopped all buses from running. The incessant downpour and shouts coming from all directions turned everything into chaos. Everyone seemed to have lost their way. I escaped the area of conflict to a friend’s place, which was on the other side of town. When I finally reached it after four to five hours, other friends of mine were there too. But the violence outside wasn’t in our thoughts. To us it was like a magical extended summer vacation. Only occasionally would we watch the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation’s announcements, repeatedly showing the footage of protestors attacking the soldiers. Watching the protestors being suppressed by the fully armed soldiers was among our best entertainment. When the situation quietened down, we parted ways to go home. We would meet again just before school started. – Harit Srikhao

history. Nevertheless, neither the government nor the military takes responsibility, claiming instead that the killing was done by a group of ‘mysterious men in black.’ Four days later, a huge mass, including Harit Srikhao and his family, joins the ‘Big Cleaning’ on Ratchaprasong as organised by the government. The whole city is flooded with white liquid to clean the streets. The press is there to record the news, celebrities are seen handing out snacks and sweets, and on the surface, the event looks like one big celebration. People pose in front of the ruins of Central World Plaza, which was badly burned during the protests, taking their photos with crying gestures, shocked faces, and twofinger peace signs. In the following years, images of Ravinder Reddy’s gold-coloured sculpture The Head – with the ruined mall as a backdrop – circulated across social media, accompanied by harsh criticism of the protestors.

On 19 May 2010, the National United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), also known as the ‘Red Shirts’, rises up against the government and demands elections. The protest is met with military force on the same day. More than eighty civilians and six soldiers are killed, and over 2,100 are injured, making it the bloodiest political confrontation in Thai

Bangkok, 22 May 2014. After six months of political crisis, the Royal Thai Armed Forces, led by General Prayut Chan-o-cha, launch a coup d'état – the 13th since the country's first in 1932. The military establishes a junta called the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to govern the nation, granting itself amnesty and sweeping powers. It partially repeals the 2007 constitution – save the second chapter concerning the King – establishes martial law, curfews na-

PROPAGANDA

More on page 233 >

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Harit Srikhao (b. 1995, TH) studied at King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang, Bangkok. His work has been shown at Musée de l’Elysée, Switzerland; Centro Nacional de las Artes, Mexico City; QUAD Galleries, Derby, UK. In 2016, an image called Heaven Gate from the Whitewash series won the Juror’s Prize at Filter Photo Festival, Chicago. All Images © Harit Srikhao

PROPAGANDA

Mirjam Kooiman (b. 1990, NL) is a curator at Foam, where she has worked on shows including Harley Weir – Boundaries, Ai Weiwei – #SafePassage as well as the Foam Talent exhibition. She holds a BA in Art History and an MA in Curating from the University of Amsterdam, with a special interest in postcolonial approaches in the arts and museum studies. She previously served as a curator-in-training at the photography collection of Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum. Mirjam lives and works in Amsterdam.

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PREVIEW Foam Magazine #47, Propaganda  

Propaganda, the manipulation of political opinion by means of carefully selected information or disinformation, is common to all eras. But r...

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