Fotograf Magazine

Christopher Williams

Capitalist Realism

“Cut an object in half, it becomes a model.
A model is a representation of a system.”
Christopher Williams


Although it may not be immediately apparent, one of the key themes in the work of US artist Christopher Williams is that of the world divided by the Cold War. It is in fact inscribed in the very title of his long-term project For Example: Dix-huit Leçons Sur La Société Industrielle, referencing Raymond Aron’s 1963 book on similar themes, and visually corresponding with Williams’ large “Cold War couple”: a picture of a Kiev 88 camera and a photograph of an ear of corn placed below the standardized Kodak calibration colour chart. While the political history of Eastern Europe is, according to Williams, epitomized by the Soviet knock-off of the German-made Hasselblad camera, produced in the Ukraine after the Second World War in what was originally an arms factory, the West is embodied by what appears to be an advertising photograph of a plastic model of an ear of corn. Recently, Williams has further amplified his fascination with geo-political issues, such as decolonization, industrialization and Americanization, since unlike earlier in his career, he now produces his photographs in Germany, where he has taken up residence.

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#21 On Photography