Portfolio > Sites of Power

Pergamon Altar
Pergamon Altar
Oil on Canvas
20" x 30"

This series, Sites of Power, explores structures in which power, an abstract concept, is embodied or performed. The paintings are based on my photographs of the scale models at Istanbul’s Miniaturk theme park. As imagery is translated from one medium to another, it becomes distorted: the “real” is processed and filtered, creating distance between the viewer and subject.

Painted with a clear reference to their photographic sources, but with severe cropping and awkward point-of-view, the images are reduced to formal composition, pattern and color, remaining only minimally recognizable. These quasi-abstract paintings thus return the reified concept of power to an abstract state, denuding the structures of the power they once wielded.

Further erosion occurs as moments of material imperfection are featured: cracks in plaster, Astroturf that curls up from its substrate, water stains on tarmac. In this way, an element of human frailty and disintegration is apparent in the otherwise idyllic model. The grand structures with which humans proclaim their power, wealth, status, and knowledge are not merely places: their influence and control over human behavior are performative exercises of power. When the building blocks are viewed up close, however, the intimidation upon which this control is based begins to break down.

This series attempts to further dismantle the mythology of such sites by disregarding the actual grand buildings as source material: the paintings instead reference photographs of their scale models. In presenting a miniature facsimile, models tame and disarm the mighty. When these tamed structures are subsequently photographed, they become souvenirs that literally fit in one’s pocket, or in the palm of one’s hand. This reference is significant and, consequently, the paintings preserve photographic details such as shallow depth of field and bokeh produced by the camera lens.