Staghorn sumach - Rhus typhina
39x70cm - edition of 6 plus artist’s proof
The photograph opposite of Che Guevara’s dead body is the starting point for my picture. John Berger in his essay “Image of Imperialism” has compared it with paintings by Rembrandt and Mantegna (opposite) to show how the intended propaganda of the photograph is subverted.
Berger claims that “in certain rare cases the tragedy of a man’s death completes [...] the meaning of his whole life” and “..this photograph [...] is an image which, as much as any mute image ever can, calls for decision”. This decision, Berger argues, is to follow Guevara’s creed: “Wherever death may surprise us, let it be welcome, provided that this, our battle-cry may have reached some receptive ear and another hand may be extended to wield our weapons” in the revolutionary fight against imperialism.
Whatever one may think of his politics (not that Berger did die in the revolutionary cause), Berger's engagement with the connections between death as a choice, painting and photography is compelling.