What Images Can Do: Face 2 Face
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The Face 2 Face project initiated by JR and Marco (2007), entailed taking caricature photo portraits of Israelis and Palestinians of the same profession and pasting these portraits in large formats in public spaces in both Israel and Palestine.This thesis examines the role of art photography in a situation of conflict. Starting from the different claims the artists made about their project, e.g. to enable a better understanding among local citizens, I elaborate on the capacity of photography to have critical power. The scope of my thesis incorporates an overview of theories on photography, the media discourse on Face 2 Face and an analysis of all the portraits that were used in the Face 2 Face project. Entering into details of the facial expressions of the subjects photographed, I examine how the portraits speak and perform to the viewer, focusing on visual rhetoric and estrangement. Furthermore, I look into whether the portraits convey common humanity, equality and enable encounter across the anthropological distinction between someone of Israeli and Palestinian origin. Subsequently, I trace the remediation of some of the portraits as they were displayed in urban settings and online, providing a development of meaning from the original portraits to outside art and re-blogged versions. Finally, I question the capacity of the portraits to work politically and I look into the manner in which they were exhibited in European institutionalized art festivals. In the main, this thesis aims to provide insight into word-image relations in photography, activist street art and photographic encounter.