Our world is increasingly filled with imagery — from the internet, advertising, movies, social media, selfies, smartphone cameras, surveillance, propaganda, media, art, books, magazines, drones, Google Earth, Pinterest, and Twitpics of remote warfare, rebel uprisings, brunches with strangers. This non-stop flood of images (the Germans call it bilderflut) obviously has an impact on our own thoughts, memories, desires, dreams, sense of self, and recollection of history. It causes us to question our own sense of what is real, what is imagined, what is fiction, what is a lie. In short, this relentless layering of imagery in our consciousness and unconsciousness accumulates and overlaps and juxtaposes endless ideas to create complex, ever-evolving and mutating composites drawn from countless sources in space, time and temperament.

So, what better medium than photography (or cinema or the internet itself) to explore this archaeology of images?

Photographer/philosopher/poet Max de Esteban has just released the fourth chapter of his ongoing series of Propositions — Proposition Four: Heads Will Roll. LensCulture is honored to present this latest work here, along with this statement from the artist:

Contemporary life shares, with equal strength, signs of the real and simulacra, of the past and the present, of images, texts and sounds. There are no master trajectories, no linear narratives, but multiple possible routes, all equally valid.

Trends emerge and others hibernate, nothing dominating for too long, nothing disappearing, merged in the fluidity of the present.

A present in a permanent state of emergency, of war as a normalized phenomenon. Distant wars that reinforce a feeling of insecurity, of peril, and the grateful acceptance of a police state, of a militarized society.

A present defined by the indefinable, by singularity, by catastrophe, by the accident. Uncontrolled events without responsibility. The Disclaimer Clause that consecrates the irrational in our lives, the paradoxical nature of powers without a face.

The awe for the emergence of new superpowers. Of a mythical China, hermetic and unknown, strong and driven, that mirrors our decadence and confusion. Signaling the triumph of Capitalism without the drawbacks of the Enlightenment.

The anguish of our bodies, the nightmares of unfulfilled desires, of impossible ambitions. To be everywhere and nowhere, alone in a multitude, hidden and exposed.

Not an easy book, by any means, but rewarding for those who choose to dig in and wrestle with it.

— Jim Casper

Heads Will Roll
Photographs by Max de Esteban
Essays by Carles Guerra, Bill Kouwenhoven
Publisher: Hatje Cantz
Hardcover: 176 pages