Nili Prag


I present you with a manufacturing line of women.

Displayed on the wall are massive quantities of photographs of women, quantities that are typical of an industrial manufacturing line. The women arrived one at a time in order to be photographed– in an improvised photography room that I set up in public areas of the city. The format I chose for photographing them was taken from a tradition in the police force of “prison photographs,” developed at the end of the 19th century. Paradoxically, this format was developed in order to facilitate the individual identification of criminals. However, with the decision to photograph them in black and white, with the use of a direct flash, a neutral background and uniform body positions – a uniform context is created that cancels out any differences of origin, religion, sexual orientation, age, and even external appearance.Taking a broader view of the masses of photographs on the wall and in the book, photography looks like a tool for regimentation and discipline that eliminates personal features. Yet, at the same time, by coming closer to the photographs and focusing on individual images, it is still possible for an observer to notice heterogeneous aspects and individual characteristics that exist in the portraits – despite their format.

At the moment an observer stands facing the wall, he or she becomes a judge, against his or her will. The decision belongs to the observer, as the judge – to give these women individual personalities, or to generalize them and to put them into a single format.