In «Comment peut-on être #Persian?», Esmeralda Kosmatopoulos combines photography, neon signs, sound pieces, and random objects in an attempt to poke fun at the post-Internet age in which we live in and highlight its effects on our perception of foreign cultures. Central to the installation is “Foreign Shadow,” consisting of 150 beautifully shot, glossy postcards airily scattered across the concrete floor, around a lonely postcard rack.
The body of work encourages us to explore beyond the stereotype of a culture when venturing abroad. We recognize such stereotypes through the likes of Instagram posts, TripAdvisor, or travel blogs–you name it, we’ve ‘seen it’–or at least the digitally enhanced, instantly consumable version which is brought to us through our smart phones, iPads, or laptops. Realized during her one month residency in Tehran spring 2016, Kosmatopoulos cites visuals that foreigners often perceive as representative of Iranian clichés from intricate mosaics to rich Persian carpets. In this social media driven world, we all fall victim to an ethnocentric digestion of other cultures.
In response to this, Kosmatopoulos’ raw images, captured daily throughout her residency, were enhanced and digitally transformed with photo editing filters. The beautified images are then disrupted and watermarked with an image of the shadow of her hand holding her iPhone, a sight we can all relate to when attempting to get that Instagram-worthy shot. The images essentially replace words, social media posts succeed the written letter and the postcard rack is skeletal, empty, and irrelevant. There is something rather eerie yet majestic in this imagery. The internationally recognizable watermark begs one to question our relationships with these devices, and the way in which we choose to view things. Perhaps in light of this project, it’s time to see the cultures and objects through our own eyes and not our smart phones.
Images courtesy by Esmeralda Kosmatopoulos.
Want more international photography? Check out the winning shots of the National Geographic Photography Competition.