Throughout history, portraits have played an essential role in how different cultures depict people of high social relevance. Kings, emperors and politically powerful families were the common possessors of that privilege. This historical relationship (which spans cultures and ages) between portraits and power continues today, where it can still be clearly seen through the photographic portraits of the leaders of modern states.

Portraits of heads of state are often used as a symbol of the State’s power. In most countries, it is common protocol to see the head of state portrait hanging in important government buildings. This practice embodies a moment in which power openly (but carefully) chooses a way to represent itself.

My work attempts to create a space for reflection on the relationship between image and power. Each image in my series is composed of a large number of official portraits of global leaders, translucently layered into a single composite. The results highlight the ways in which different political periods have been embodied in different countries at different times.

—Alejandro Almaraz