Cocktail of Signs

Some amusing and fascinating work by Michael Bühler-Rose here that may be of interest to students seeking to understand the ‘postmodern’ condition with its cocktail of signs. Michael uses a 19th century manner of representation to make photos of American women wearing traditional Indian dress that has a remarkably satisfying, visual and conceptual effect.



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8 comments for “Cocktail of Signs

  1. 19 March 2014 at 3:36 am

    Thought provoking, and right on the spot with theory I’m trying to work out for myself… not directly, but linked.

    • 20 March 2014 at 3:56 pm

      I did think of you when I watched the video Dewald. Certainly made me question what’s real and what’s not and wonder again about the way in which people also adapt certain cultures and lifestyles (thinking of programs about young people who live and dress in 1940s/50s style for example and how does that effect their perceptions of life).

  2. 19 March 2014 at 6:32 pm

    There are a whole number of issues raised here much as was common in the postmodern days and it seems still in these post-postmodern times.
    One might think of the way that much of this explores ideas of The Other both in terms of the individuals on the image and the duality of Bühler-Rose himself. Also there is questioning of the gaze particularly from the point of view of post-colonial critique of the appropriation of the products and culture of the colony by and for the benefit of the colonial power and its people and how this goes much further than simply the raw materials and manufactures.
    If you have access to Nicholas Mirzoeff’s “The Visual Culture Reader” take a look at part four: Race and Identity in Colonial and Post Colonial Culture (there is a pdf of the book online, but I don’t know if it is legit and so how long it will be available) and for The Gaze look here.

  3. 19 March 2014 at 7:53 pm

    I think this is an interesting video and an intriguing body of work. It is interesting to see the evolution of Buhler-Rose’s practice, starting from a relatively straightforward documentation of this community and then delving deeper into the themes that the subject throws up through still life. It’s great to see a variety of approaches that expand an idea and offers the viewer plenty to engage with.

  4. CliveW
    20 March 2014 at 9:18 am

    I think it illustrates the breadth of approaches possible in contemporary photography and also the efficacy of not pre-visualising in detail, then executing, but thinking of it as a forensic process of gathering and investigation which then informs the outcome.

  5. 22 March 2014 at 10:05 am

    It’s really interesting how his exploration has developed into the separate strands (portraits, still life’s, TVs)- all linked but also separate. Would be good to see the actual exhibition of this work.

  6. 22 March 2014 at 10:10 am

    Its also really interesting to look at the rest of his portfolio and how it all relates to his own life experience.

  7. Robert
    24 March 2014 at 12:53 pm

    What stands out for me is the way my picture of reality is fragmented. And we have to negotiate the idea that for these women (in Constructing the Exotic) there is ‘truth’ in simulation.

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