Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin. The Revolutionary, Shtik Fleisch Mit Tzvei Eigen, 2013
To create the portraits in their project, Broomberg & Chanarin co-opted a four-lens, facial recognition camera developed for public security and border control in Russia. Use of the camera can be made in crowded train stations, demonstrations, stadiums—any public gathering. In such situations, because the individual has not agreed to be photographed, the resulting image renders her or him visually as dead, and also evasive, potentially as not agreeing to the state-civil contract. Indeed, Russia has green-lighted using such imagery in court as evidence, akin to a fingerprint.
In choosing their subjects and their approach, Broomberg & Chanarin invoked two streams of inspiration: first, they categorized their sitters according to the 120 social types that artist August Sander identified in his comprehensive photographic survey of German society over the first half of the 20th Century. Thus, they have a rebel, a baker, a philosopher, among other “types”. Second, the artists modeled their photos on Helmar Lerski’s non-heroic portraits, also categorized by profession. Like Lerski, they shot multiple views of one face, from different viewpoints, conveying claustrophobia and the impossibility of concluding anything substantial about the individual person under the skin.