The Pose

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  • Topic: Photography, Libya, Tripoli
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  • Published : January 20, 2013
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How can the pose be seen as a kind of performance or staging of self?

Figure 1
I think the pose can be seen as a kind of performance and staging of the self because of the way that person acts and wishes to be seen at that moment in time when the picture is taken.

In the image I have chosen colonel Gadhafi (FUGURE1) taken in 2009 during the U.N. general assembly by Platon an Englishman based in new york who’s worked for companies such as The New Yorker, Time Magazine, Rolling Stone, The New York Times Magazine and Vanity Fair. The subject to me comes across very serious, cultural, arrogant, powerful and important. The picture is also taken from an angle to make him seem bigger while he looks directly into the camera, which could come across confrontational or defiant if not both. All of this could be seen as a performance to get a certain message across in the image.

Barbara Bolt says, “ When we speak, write, draw take a photograph, construct a digital image or make a video, there seems little dispute that what we are involved in is making representations”(Bolt 2004:11). Which in this case a representation of ones self, “the pose” is a performance used to represent ones self. Gadhafi is representing himself as a serious leader of cultural being and understanding as and big fearless figure for the Libyan state.

John szarkowski says that there are “ those who think of photography as a means of self expression as a mirror, and those who think of it as a method of exploration as a window” (The rhetoric of the pose (photography and the portrait as performance). And with this image I think we are looking through a window the subject has created for us to look into and see what he wishes us to see at the time. And considering he is a notorious Libyan politician, revolutionary and dictator, who has led Libya since he overthrew King Idris in a 1969 coup and established the Libyan Arab Republic from Libya. I think for a person of his status and calibre it is important that the right image is put across.

“He was wearing this beautiful chocolate robe and his crazy wild hair is tamed by this sort of black pork pie hat,” platon said. “ And his eyes are just black slits, really hard to read anything. His either the smartest guy in the room or he’s the craziest guy in the room. Its intimidating”(witty, Patrick. (March 25,2011) this shows that Gadhafi is very much in control of this image. But even though Gadhafi is very much in control of the image it’s the photographer’s choice to choose when to press the cameras button. I also think the photographer is also part of the self staging of the subject at times because by them not interfering with the subject looks or positioning in a way they are confirming by pressing the shoot button on a camera that the scene has been set and the performance is fine.

The writer from the Rhetoric of the pose also says “ their meaning is seemingly direct unmediated; they record and contain the moment in all its vernacular fullness” (The rhetoric of the pose (photography and the portrait as performance) referring to the window type photograph John Szarkowski talks about, which is what I think the Gadhafi photograph is, because the photographer says “He was wearing this beautiful chocolate robe and his crazy wild hair is tamed by this sort of black pork pie hat,” platon said. “ And his eyes are just black slits, really hard to read anything. He is either the smartest guy in the room or he’s the craziest guy in the room. Its intimidating”. You can see all this in the image with what he wears, his facial expression and his body positioning.

But same as Winogrand’s image of the 1973 Eliot Richardson press conference mentioned by szarkowski in the same article, the writer talks about in the rhetoric of the pose that “ it seems to me that the real source of power is the narrative of Watergate which lies behind it-the complex fabric of dissembling, posturing and manoeuvring”(The rhetoric...
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