21st Nov 2013
History of Art and Design, University of Brighton
‘In the end, though, business men invaded professional photography from every side’. Walter Benjamin.
This paper examines the relationship between the photographic image and capitalist exploitation; it takes the photographic album Oficina Alianza and Port of Iquique 1899, an industrial topography of nitrate mining in the Atacama desert of Chile, as a the point of departure for a series of questions. How are photographic acts of representation implicated in the development of capitalism? And, in the case of Chile, how does a photographic process become pressed into the service of European monopolists and speculators? Of the hundred images contained in the Oficina Alianza and Port of Iquique 1899 album, many contain nitrate miners; its industrial topography is a peopled landscape. How does the labouring body figure in such acts of representation and processes of appropriation?