Portraits of Power
Project info

Throughout history, portraits have played an essential role in how different cultures depict and view people of high social relevance. Kings, emperors and politically powerful families were the common possessors of that privilege. This historical tradition throughout different cultures that relates portrait with power continues until today, especially among the photographic portraits of the leaders of modern states. Portraits of heads of state are often used as a symbol of the State power. In most countries it is part of common protocol to find the head of state portrait in important government buildings. We could say this practice embodies one of the few moments in history in which power chooses carefully the way to represent itself.

My work attempts to create a space for reflection on this relationship. From an overlay image technique, I endeavor to mesh the visual style characteristics of portraits of heads of state, thereby highlighting the ways in which different political periods have been represented in different countries. Each portrait in this series is composed of a large number of official portraits of global leaders, translucently layered into a single composite. The sum of as few as four, or as many as forty different portraits comprise give the final shape of the face we see in its images, showing the body positions, costumes and facial expressions chosen to be represented.

Alejandro Almaraz