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More Art, Less Pope

Art pope, Moral Monday, Raleigh, North Carolina

This is how the photograph looked once framed for the
Truth to Power show.
More Art Less pope, Truth to Power
I made this frame out of pine, with a mirror-like black lacquer finish. Museum glass on the front with spacers, and acrylic in the back to allow seeing of the signature and text about history of the print and photograph.

This photograph has nothing to do with Francis, but rather with the fellow who at the beginning of this story was still North Carolina's Governor's Chief of Budget, a billionaire who made his fortune is the retail sector praying of the very poor, a character who goes by the name of Art Pope, and is to North Carolina what the Koch brothers are to America in these times where the Tea party is still a factor.

I believe that photography's strength is its strong tie to reality. As a result, my work is always organic, and its intensity is rooted in the historic, poetic or emotional relevance of what is taking place in front of the eyes of the viewer. This photograph is very straightforward, yet it is more than its "raison d'être," the slogan that makes it universal. It would be rather simplistic to just capture a good one-liner on its own, and while that is mostly what is possible when documenting a street protest, I am only interested by that when the composition is elegant and visually dynamic. As a visual artist, what I present on a wall has to be visually satisfying, a concept that may not be part of a lot of contemporary photography.

The satisfaction here comes a little bit from the richness of the contrast and the perspective on a downtown street that seems generically American. The texture of the photograph enjoys a grain that gives it an intriguing timelessness. Probably above all, the composition includes a theater of faces that is reminiscent of William Klein, the great American photographer from the 60's and 70's who first created that effect, notably piercing through the crowds on Broadway.
Truth to Power, Mayor Durham, Bill Bell, Randy Voller, Chairman N.C. Democratic Party

This is how this photograph goes beyond good photojournalism. A William Klein influence here is pushed into the 21st Century but through a political subject, something that Klein never touched. Thanks to technical advancements I was able to add optical qualities and an appealing treatment of the grain, which allow larger print sizes. Apart from featuring the creator of this slogan, that improbable blonde Rastafari-styled activist turned somewhat mysterious with her incognito glasses, the first person on the left, with his round features and his glasses delicately outlined in the out of focus foreground, frame the photograph in a multidimensional composition.
Truth to Power, Mayor Durham, Bill Bell, Randy Voller, Chairman N.C. Democratic Party

It is also worth noting that while being shot in Raleigh at a rather North Carolina specific movement, this photograph has universal resonance.

You can see prices for this print

The Honorable randy Voller, Chairman of the N.C. Democratic Party, and Durham Mayor Bill Bell were the first politicians to visit the Truth to Power show at Pleiades Gallery--see two top photographs on the right--for which this photograph was created. They both agreed that art has an important place to reclaim in politics.
Nicole Uzzell, truth to power

And here is Nicole Uzzell the creator of the sign and slogan, at Pleiades Gallery one year later.

Although it most certainly has nothing to do with this slogan or this photograph, Art pope resigned from his position as Deputy Budget Director shortly after the end of the show.


This photograph was presented to Pope Francis by the Vatican Nunzio (Ambassador equivalent) to the U.N. on September 24, 2016, during the Holy Father's visit in NY. Msgr. Kassas, First Secretary of the Holy See's Mission to the U.N. seen here when I delivered the piece on September 14, 2016, tells me that the Pope took the piece back with him to the Vatican.
Pere Simon,holysee mission