Saturday, November 13, 2010


This Photograph was taken by Laurent Auxietre, and can be found Here. This black-and-white photograph shows an African holding a Kalashnikov rifle at a diagonal to his upright body. The rifle is held in both hands, one finger by the trigger, the other on the grip. The finger on the trigger parallels the direction that the gun is pointing. the gun itself takes up a large portion of the photograph. The hard textures of the gun contrasting starkly with the softer textures of the subject holding it. The frame cuts the subject off at the upper torso, we can see the details of the head and hands more clearly than the subject's body. The hand on the grip of the gun appears to be very worn, in contrast to the subject's face.

This photograph references the child soldiers in Africa. Children are taken from their villages and trained to fight from a very young age. The prominence of the rifle in the photograph suggests that the subject is almost defined by the gun rather than the other way around. The subject's face is partly obscured by the rifle as well, which could suggest a reluctance or fear. The fact that this photograph is not in color makes the subject himself less noticeable than if the photograph had been in color, because the contrast between the rifle and the subject is less than if the rifle and the subject were in color.

I think that this photograph is a successful portrait because of the positioning of the rifle. Since the rifle is in the foreground, you see much greater details on the weapon as opposed to the subject holding the rifle. The combination of the foregrounding of the rifle and the details we notice about the rifle leads us to understand that the mechanical thing being held may be complex, but the biological person holding the rifle is even more complex. The textural difference emphasized between the person and the rifle is also highlighted by the foregrounding of the rifle. The rifle is so prominent, it overshadows one eye of the subject. At the same time, the frame conceals the rest of the subjects body, which leads the viewer to question what is being left out, possibly the evidence of starvation or battle scars. The fact that we see a person holding a rifle at the ready demonstrates the idea that warfare is not simply statistics, but people who get shot and killed. Also, the subject matter reminds us that soldiers may be following orders of their superiors and that the leaders may be wrong about why a conflict happens, but also that eventually it comes down to individuals who fight and kill others in war.

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