andres serrano

Uncensored photographs
torture

andres-serrano-torture

source: derryvoid
Andres Serrano (born 1950 America) is a celebrated photographer who has become well known for his dramatic and provocative images. Serrano has used bodily fluids in his work, notably his controversial work “Piss Christ”, a beautiful red-tinged photograph of a crucifix submerged in a glass container of what was claimed to be the artist’s own urine. Serrano has also employed traditional portraiture strategies to photograph members of the Klu Klux Klan (Klansmen, 1990) and homeless New Yorkers (Nomads, 1990). His Morgue series (1992), which is believed to have been photographed in Paris, studied the heads and bodies of corpses. His other series examine such subjects as Middle America, Catholic lay workers, guns, and human sexuality.
Serrano’s photographs are shaped by his training in painting and sculpture and informed by his strict Roman Catholic upbringing. References to Catholic iconography and doctrine run throughout his work. Carefully composed, suffused with light, and saturated with color, his large-scale photographs appear painterly, their subjects framed with an eye towards such classical sculptural qualities as form, mass, and balance.
Serrano’s work as a photographer tends toward relatively large prints of about 20 by 30 inches (51 by 76 cm), which are produced by conventional photographic techniques (as opposed to digital manipulation).
Presented in partnership with a/political, dedicated to the support and promotion of artists working within a socio-political framework; aiming to elucidate current social and political concerns.
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source: a-politicalorg
In 2005, The New York Times Magazine asked Andres Serrano to produce images of torture for the cover page and lead article What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Torture by Joseph Lelyveld. Ten years on, in 2015, Andres Serrano returned to the subject, collaborating with a/political on his most ambitious project to date. Over the course of the year, Serrano gained access to a number of restricted sites and individuals. The photographs developed as a cabinet of curiosity, following the evolution of punitive and coercive techniques into its modern day manifestation.

In an article for Al Jazeera on the history of torture Clive Stafford Smith, the director of the human rights organisation Reprieve, stated ‘’The history of torture teaches us two lessons: first, that our inventive capacity for inflicting pain and terror on our fellow human is shockingly expansive. Second, that the only thing we learn from history is that we do not learn from history: similar patterns of violence and humiliation resurface with sinister regularity.” Torture, as per the Oxford Dictionary definition, ‘The infliction of severe bodily pain, as punishment or as means of persuasion’ has been imposed throughout the centuries, however while the results remain comparable, the methods and parameters are changing. The actual bodily pain inflicted as ‘black torture’ now extends to the ‘white’ state sanctioned psychological brutality, legitimatised through the auspices of ‘terror’ itself.

Appropriated by law as a means of socio-political justice, the physical act of distress and suffering was capped in Britain by way of the Habeas Corpus Act of 1629. Following World War II, Article 5 was added to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which stated, “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”, a prohibition that was adopted by a number of global human rights treaties in the second half of the last century. These pervasive injunctions, however, have only served to further the depths to which governments conceal their methods deep within the pits of their outsourced pseudo-officialdom. Torture remains as prevalent as ever; now in the shadows of society, in the black sites of Eastern Europe’s forests.

Juxtaposing images of authentic torture devices from acclaimed museum collections with replicas from popular, kitsch torture museums, commercialisation and theatricality comes into question, whereby inauthentic objects are positioned as macabre tourist attractions and forms of entertainment. Portraits of individuals who have been victim to brutal black and white torture are positioned next to the whistleblowers, highlighting issues of guilt and liability. Complex layers of blame and complicity further muddy the waters between obligations and accountability. This ambiguity is developed through large-scale recreations of torture methods at a/political’s experimental production space in Maubourguet – The Foundry. There, consenting models were photographed in degrading positions, causing them actual physical distress during the staging of the scene.

The final poetic nuance resides in the public exhibition of the series, whereby the audience becomes the spectator, complicit in a relationship between the tortured and the torturer, as they question their own participation in the complex web of entertainment and responsibility.
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source: paris-art
L’exposition « Torture », à la galerie Nathalie Obadia de Paris présente seize photographies issues de la série qu’Andres Serrano a consacrée à la torture. En explorant tous les aspects de la torture, l’artiste américain met en lumière l’ambiguïté des sentiments qu’elle suscite, entre fascination et rejet.

Seize photographies d’Andres Serrano offrent un aperçu du projet esquissé dès 2005 par l’artiste américain, qui a abouti dix ans pus tard à une série d’une cinquantaine de photographies. A l’origine du projet : une commande du New York Times en vue d’illustrer un article dénonçant la situation dans la prison d’Abu Ghraib, où des soldats américains ont été pris en flagrant délit d’actes de torture sur des prisonniers irakiens. Le travail alors entamé fut réactivé en 2015, lorsqu’Andres Serrano engagea un partenariat avec l’organisation a/political pour prolonger la série « Torture ».

Les photographies, réalisées dans neuf pays d’Europe, reflètent les multiples aspects de la torture. Une première partie de la série s’intéresse aux objets qui ont servi à la torture au cours de l’histoire. Des instruments de torture du Moyen Âge exposés dans des musées sont ainsi photographiés en gros plan. On découvre avec The Pear un objet issu de la période de l’Inquisition conservé dans le Musée de l’inquisition de Carcassonne et avec Fool’s Mask IV un masque médiéval, tous deux promus au statut d’œuvre par le regard photographique. A travers cet ensemble se dessine l’attrait touristique et spectaculaire de la torture.

La torture, entre fascination et rejet
Une autre section de la série Torture donne à voir des scènes de torture reconstituées avec des volontaires. Le grand nombre de ces derniers, qui ont répondu positivement aux demandes d’Andres Serrano, a révélé à celui-ci combien il est aisé de torturer des individus, dès lors que l’on exerce un pouvoir sur eux. Ces reconstitutions documentent divers lieux où la torture a été utilisée au 20e siècle : les camps de concentration nazis, les prisons de la police politique est-allemande…

Un ensemble de portraits expose de façon paradoxale de vraies victimes de torture. Dans le cliché Fatima, Was Imprisoned And Tortured In Sudan (Fatima, Fut emprisonnée et torturée au Soudan), une femme qui fut emprisonnée et torturée par la police pose avec son voile. Dans The Hooded Men (Les hommes encagoulés), c’est une cagoule qui cache le visage de quatre hommes soumis à la torture dans les années 1970 en Irlande. La photographie reproduit l’aveuglement par une cagoule qui leur était alors imposé. Plus que l’identité de la personne, ce sont ses souffrances qui ont ainsi mises en lumière.

A travers les différents angles qu’elle adopte, la série « Torture » d’Andres Serrano reflète toute l’ambiguïté d’une pratique qui suscite autant de fascination que de rejet.