About the Politics (2012-2014) series of photographs by Borut Krajnc. The project was premiered in December 2014 at Cankarjev dom in Ljubljana as an exhibition and as a perpetual calendar, produced by the Made in China project.
In the past twenty and something years the coalition between the political elites and increasingly powerful equity tycoons has became obvious (also) in the Western world. At the same time populism of modern politicians has been proportional with their socio-economic policies that have been proven to be damaging for prosperity of big majority of the population. Nowadays virtually all political options, the left and the right, seems to be alike as they lost their original agendas. The differences are only cosmetic. Or as the writer Tariq Ali recently stated: “The European Union is a union of the extreme centre.” Therefore the political scene has turned to spectacle as their PR became increasingly skilled in spinning attention off the significant issues replacing them by constant reality show. Nowadays politicians are the only true stars of the mass media. They receive the greatest amount of airtime while sometimes, directly or indirectly, they even control the media. Directly, like former Italian president Silvio Berlusconi, or indirectly, like Anglo-American conservatives through the empires of powerful moguls. They all apply extremely simplified rhetoric and cheap media spins. And most of them have been relatively successful.
But still, one might think there is a limit to the absurdity of political campaigns and cheap populism. But no such thing is in sight in most of European states. In 2012 a very creative campaign took place during Slovenian presidential elections as one of the candidates, Borut Pahor, decided to become a truly people’s man. He stated that the politicians are too distant from ordinary people hit by the ongoing crisis, so he came up with a concept. Almost every day for a couple of weeks Pahor transformed himself to become a physical worker in the primary and the secondary sectors, i. e. in the factories and on the fields. He was a butcher, agriculturist, construction worker and bookbinder.
His working actions were constantly covered by the media, especially by the tabloids and commercial televisions. However, this constant spectacle has also been captured in the photographs of Borut Krajnc, engaged photojournalist and an artist who continuously reflects micro or macro situations in his immediate surroundings. He was following the candidate as accredited photographer of Mladina weekly newspaper while he found an inspiration and possibility to create an art work. It was laying in front of him. He just had to pick it up and mirror it back.
In the past fifteen years Krajnc has developed great sensibility for local and international socio-political phenomena. A former student of economy who became a (self-taught) photographer has been profoundly dealing with the relationship between politics and the economy using both conceptual and documentary approaches. In one of his most comprehensive ongoing projects entitled Emptiness (2004-2008) he documented empty billboards, city-lights and other advertising surfaces in order to depict the small failures of a capital-driven world, and used it as a metaphor.
In a similar way he approached the Politics (2012-2014) series of photographs and created a metaphor of current political zeitgeist by subliming a simple but telling gesture of a politician. He has shown that there are no limits of populism. The candidate who was determined to win the elections (and he eventually did) called his action Together – Let’s Encourage Each Other and showed all his collective spirit, humbleness and diligence. But Krajnc has managed to capture the emptiness of this gesture; in his pictures the president is always alone, isolated, even though he was always surrounded by co-workers, PR officers, onlookers and media. Twelve photographs display Pahor’s ability to appropriate different identities and talent to act, to be serious and absorbed in his labour, to concentrate and work with great enthusiasm. On one hand Krajnc has documented the charade and revealed ignobly populist gesture of the local political elites who, like most of the elites across Europe, have openly supported the interests of capital at the expense of the people over the past two decades. On the other hand, he captured the spectacle that embodies increasing weakness of state against the power of capital. The presidential candidate had to transform to harmless entertainer to become a president. And the president is thus finally naked.
© Miha Colner, 6 July 2015