Palestine Portraits (Baroque)

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I’m not sure what I think of these portraits by Spanish photographer Miguel Angel Sanchez. You can see more here. As I understand it from a very limited exposure, Palestine photography is usually dominated by landscape and direct natural light, whereas the tonality in these portraits is dark and closed in; and the lighting is theatrical. They remind me of something like Caravaggio out of the Baroque. That’s what struck me, at least, looking at the use of props that appear in some of these photographs. What I find most interesting and most troubling about these pictures is the staged presentation of a genuine human condition.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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2 Responses to Palestine Portraits (Baroque)

  1. efmooney says:

    Definitely Caravaggio-like. In fact, these seem to ask if photography can compete with the “great masters” of painting (who ‘staged’ their subjects). In a museum centuries later we can see suffering aesthetically, an ‘interest without interest.’ Here the suffering is timeless, place-less, not even as site-specific as Goya’s Horrors of War. They startle, draw us in, like Rembrandt’s late self-portraits, also drenched with magisterial suffering. ‘Universal” in drawing us to a human condition endured anywhere, anytime – rather than a commentary on the yoke of Palestinian people. They are amazing, Zak.

  2. benschachter says:

    Also look at George de La Tour (Christ in the Carpenter’s Shop). He uses exactly the same light and interior scenes. I can’t read the text on the sight, so many questions remain. Is the photographer connecting the baroque/catholic style to particular characters/scenes from his tradition? Is he looking for ways to elevate individual stories to high art thus making a broader statement on suffering, struggle, redemption?

    More – is this the right style for today? If so, how might it change our reading of other artists/works? Rarely do artists try to elevate subject matter today. Mostly we are still struggling through the minimalist mindset – take it or leave it. If there is meaning in an image its put aside in favor of formal and technical concerns. Have you seen:

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