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Michael Fent

Michael Fent finds an interest in the photobooth portrait as a mode of standard representation meeting State rules. In 2003, during the war in Irak, a boat with 98 clandestine immigrants from Kurdistan landed on a remote beach in South Italy. The next day, on that same beach, the young Swiss photographer finds five black and white identity photographs, torn by their owner, and altered by seawater. He reconstitutes these portraits and enlarges them, bringing into evidence their shared characteristics (head and shoulder portraits, frontal pose, neutral background, etc.), typical of legal photography. Three of these images show a numbered piece of paper pined on the chest of the photographed individual, reminding of mug shots and of the filing system implemented by the administrations to control people. The future of these individuals come to mind when looking at this series of torn, untitled portraits; individuals who destabilize the State’s coercion by choosing to abandon their official identity. (Credit: Ohne Titel [Sans titre]© Michael Fent / ECAL, Lausanne)