Last night, I attended an awesome photography exhibit by Jan Banning, curated by Jamie Wellford, at HERE Arts Center 145 Sixth Avenue (Entrance on Dominick Street) in New York. The photographer, whose work has previously been displayed in the Moving Walls exhibit and on The New Yorker’s Photo Booth blog, was unfortunately not present. A conversation with Wellford afterward offered some interesting insights into his working methods (he tried to get them just as they are settling in), audience reaction (boredom), and how the photographer would react to knowing that (he would love that). It’s a pretty awesome show, that when accompanied with such data as the monthly salary of the bureaucrats photographed and an explanation of their wide-ranging responsibilities leaves much unspoken about the possibility of corruption. As one friend said, “When this man in Texas makes $5,600/month and a woman in India makes $12/month, you start to appreciate who can survive on that income.” Indeed, we are reminded of the bureaucrats primary function: legitimation. Here are some of my favorite prints that appeared in the show taken from the pdf catalogue of the book Bureaucratics, available on the photographer’s website:
The work has also inspired a forthcoming “From the Archive” where I will comb the archive for bureaucrats I have photographed in the past in their native habitat: the office.