Tag Archives: Propaganda

Photographer #339: Anoek Steketee

Anoek Steketee, 1974, The Netherlands, is a documentary photographer with a unique approach. In her series Dream City she visited, together with journalist Eefje Blankevoort, various amusement parks. She went to Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, the Palestinian Territories, Rwanda, Colombia, Indonesia, China, Turkmenistan and the USA. The parks form a universal backdrop to the large differences in cultural, sociological and political contexts. She stages her subjects and her lighting is impecable. In 2011 Dream City was released as a monograph. For the series Frontstage she visited Iran on several occasions between 2003 and 2006. She wanted to explore to what extend the image of Iran had been created by the western media and the Iranian propaganda itself. She asked passersby to pose, again using flash lights and giving the people directions. By using this technique, the people in the images become individuals with a story, while the Islamic Republic and the revolutionary ideology faded into the background. The following images come from the series Dream City, Frontstage and Holy Sepulchre.

Website: www.anoeksteketee.com

Review: Sunder by Bruce Haley

BruceHaley_Sunder.jpg

Bruce Haley spent a few years (1994-2002) wandering around some of the backwaters of the former Soviet Union to take photographs. The Soviet Union is “long” gone. It is mostly remembered as a prop, as a cypher, as a stand-in for the other side in debates that rarely involve any actual information about what really happened. In that sense, talking about the Soviet Union is pointless. I don’t see Sunder, the newly released book that shows Haley’s work, as centering on the Soviet Union. Instead, it’s a book about us, about our human follies and dreams. (more)

Peel aside the theories, the systems, the propaganda, and human history is a collection of human dreams and human follies. We all aspire to do better – otherwise, why even bother? Sometimes, we succeed, sometimes, we fail. Sunder is filled with images showing just that.

There might be a Lenin on the cover, but many of the images could have been taken anywhere. The photograph on page 117 reminded me of the post-industrial wasteland that you can find just a short drive out of Pittsburgh, PA, where I lived for a few years. The photographs of young children playing I could see taking a walk.

I think one would really want to look past anything that points to a certain other time and place in Sunder, and look at what points to our time and place – just like how we should study history not to cram facts about what happened at a certain time and place long gone and far away, but to see what we can learn from that.

And then the question is not whether we are just like “them,” whether we are the new Rome for example, but instead how we can tilt the dreams-to-follies ratio a little bit more towards the dreams, and less towards the follies. Of course, this is what we would expect our politicians to do, but looking at how things are going right now that might not necessarily be happening.

If there’s something to be learned from the photographs in Sunder it’s that there will always be those dreams, and that there will be photographers like Bruce Haley willing to spend a few years on taking photographs to show us. Now it’s up to us to look.

Sunder, photographs by Bruce Haley, introduction by Dina & Clint Eastwood, essay by Andrei Codrescu, 144 pages, Charta/Daylight, 2011

” Boring Landscape” series by the italian…

” Boring Landscape” series by the italian photographer Marco Citron,  features in german magazine PhotoNews, with a review about the work written by Martin Parr :

“The photos of Marco Citron from ex-soviet countries look strangely familiar. They remind us of the images of Utopia, so beloved by Communist block photographers in the 60’s and 70s. These can be found in postcards, propaganda books showing the bright new cities they depicted and many other forms. Yet somehow we also know
they are different. Not only are these taken by a artist of some sophistication, but just the way he arranges the cars, and the foregrounds,for example, in the photographs has a real wit to them.
It is both playful and very subtle. The photographs have a humour to them which is almost a contradiction, given the dry and pedestrian nature of the subject matter.
That little ambiguity is  what makes these photographs really work.”

A part of Food For Your Eyes Slideshows presented during  Month of Photograhy in Vienna last november ,  “Boring Landscape” is exhibited at the 5th Darmstädter Tage der Fotografie