I’m quite critical of politicians that’s how I am because I started working in a political environment in Iran, my country, when I was 16 so I’m quite critical when it comes to politicians. Here I try to come with an open mind and try to understand them but on the other hand for me it is really important that we have the politicians and we can hear their voice but you can always hear their voice, they are everywhere. They comment on everything, they have a direct influence on our lives, but how do the others feel? How the decisions of politicians directly affect their lives. So I like to work in parallel to show both sides and of course it is a bit challenging. And of course it’s not Iran, so the politicians are different, but in the end politicians are politicians, it’s all about politics.
– Newsha Tavakolian
What possible social or cultural contexts might play a role in this picture?
I have been a photographer for a long time now yet I am still interested in the world. Photography is so specifically connected to the world. If you think about the other arts for example, there is this wonderful example that a photographer used to use about the differences between photography and some of the other arts. He used to say, look, if you put a painter in a white room and you give him his canvas and his easel and so forth and his paints, he will still paint whatever he wants, he is only limited by his own imagination. If you put the photographer in there and the photographer can take a white picture, a gray picture, a black picture and maybe a self-portrait and that is it and that is the great limitation of photography, on the other hand its great strength is this sense of veracity to the world that somehow this little mechanical thing that you have, the camera, you point it at the world and either the film or the digital sensor makes a direct representation of the world. Obviously the photographer waited for a certain moment and framed it in a certain way and so on, but you can always say on some level that this happened and I find that very exciting about photography and that is why looking at a Don McCullin picture of war is very different from experiencing Goya’s disasters of war, both are wonderful in their own way. With Don you say “oh yeah, he was there in Biafra” and you don’t say that about Goya even though he was there, it’s different.
– Alex Webb
What might this image look like if it had been created from a different artistic technique (e.g., painting, sculpture, digital art)?
What questions does these pictures raise for you? What would you like to know more about the subject of the pictures?
I was looking for imperfections in the object and in the building, that’s where I met a little bit with my own approach to photography in general and my own practice, it has a layer of humor because I found myself doing a quality control of the building and I find it very funny that a Spanish person living in Brazil is actually doing a quality control in Switzerland.
– Cristina de Middel
If you had the opportunity to inspire the images to a title, what title would suit your interpretation?
The access we had to the palace was the most surprising thing for me, and I have to give you all credit for that, it was amazing, it was something I never expected in my life, honestly. Because I come from the press and I know I have access because I used to work in places like this but here I had all the access I could have – everything! I mean, the only thing I couldn’t get into was the president’s office. The rest I could get into everywhere and I was like I said, I had my own access card, no security check, nothing, I could get into the Federal Palace of Switzerland at any time of the day or night! No security check at all, that is totally unbelievable to me and it says a lot about Switzerland, it says a lot about the transparency that exists in this country, the trust that exists in this country and how that is a basis for democracy.
– Cristina de Middel
So I had the privilege and the honor to also have access to the actual constitution and it is a document that has been preserved for the last 15 to 20 years because it was open to the public and many people left it which was not appropriate for this type of document and it was damaged. So for the last few years it has been preserved so that not many people have access to it. Only the director of the archive and in a curtain very strict conditions but I think they felt the passion and probably the opportunity to show the document for this occasion because its the anniversary and its going to be shown in a very decent and beautiful way I hope so I had access to it not once but twice and I took pictures of it as an object and then I started playing with all the obstacles from you as a person to the constitution, you can’t touch it, you can’t see it the real object and its damaged and its old, its been used so then come all these symbols of how this concept is actually not perfect and how when you turn an idea into an object and how when you turn a concept into its application then its never going to be perfect – that’s life! Perfection is dead.
– Cristina de Middel
I realized from walking around the parliament and reading the books that were given to me that many, many photographers have mostly given their platform to men and most of the important images that are in the parliament and that are documented are of male politicians throughout history and women have been absent for many, many years. I thought it was my chance, my opportunity to do the opposite and make the women visible and make the men not disappear, but that we cannot see their faces. So all the male politicians that I photographed you can only see their backs or they’re talking so you can’t see their faces and all the women are in front of my lens and you can see their faces.