jueves, junio 08, 2006

On Che's Legacy II

And here you have the second of the two notes about Che published by the New Statesman:


Alison Jackson, photographer, film-maker and director of Sven: the coach, the cash and his lovers

When you look closely, you can see that many iconic photographs are constructed in the same way; it is possible to copy the formula. Look at some of the most enduring images of our age: Mario Testino's Princess Diana, Andy Warhol's Marilyn Monroe, Cecil Beaton's portraits. Like Che, they are shot from below against a light background, giving them a raised, Godlike quality. The angle of the shot is particularly crucial, as profiles have little impact and full-frontals tend to flatten the features.

The direction and intensity of the subject's gaze is also key. Che is looking past the camera, out to his vision. His line of vision has been much tinkered with by various artists, but it retains its passion even on a table-mat or a screensaver.

An image like this is about a sign: it's a shorthand. This particular one now stands for opposition to the establishment, freedom and revolution. My work is based on the thesis that we work in stereotypes, or sign language.

The powerful images of celebrities who dominate the world correspond to the religious pictures of the past. Celebrities and public figures wouldn't exist without imagery. We find ourselves believing that what these pictures portray is the whole "truth" about the subject - for example, Marilyn Monroe is just a sex goddess; Britney Spears is white trash; Camilla has a touch of the wicked old witch. At best, photographs of celebrities are authentic only at the very moment the shutter clicks, yet we accept them as more real than the real.

Stella Vine, artist

This particular image communicates Che's dignity, even though it's very sparse. It shows someone who is innately good, and people connect with that, just as they do with pictures of Diana. I considered basing one of my paintings on it, especially when I saw The Motorcycle Diaries. But I worried that it would seem ironic because my style is colourful and romantic. It would have to come from a really passionate place.

I would paint it with all four colours in his face and lots of trees, butterflies and love hearts in the background. It would be a bit kitsch, but not at all ironic.


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