Wanted in Iran: The Photographs
Andrew Sullivan’s “Daily Dish” has done substantial work covering the protests against the election in Iran. His post this morning “Counter-Targeting the Protestors” led to a site controlled by the Iranian government, where the regime was posting candid photographs of Mousavi supporters demonstrating in the streets, and using the site as a plea to the public to help with identifications.
In looking at these pictures, I was struck by their strength as photographs, not just as politically-charged documents, but as pictures with their own aesthetic power. They’re digital WANTED posters, essentially, and I’ve never seen anything like them. The foregrounds, the backgrounds, the croppings, the candidness of the subjects, the intention of the unknown photographer(s), the ominous red halos (or targets), the use of the images – everything about them is compelling, captivating, subject to discussion, and unknowable.
I’d be interested to see if there’s some kind of creative remixing that might occur with these. Their provenance is as mysterious as their subject. Might the photographs have been made by Mousavi supporters, posted to pro-Mousavi sites, and then downoloaded and photoshopped by the regime? Or would the regime have their own cadre of photographers out photographing protestors (a common sight in San Francisco, New York, or London) to create evidence that might enable prosecutions down the line?
While their intended use is painfully clear, as digital photographs, there’s a unique and troubling power in their aggregate. Let us know what you think below, and if you have great ideas for their repurposing, please share what you’ve done.