Parliament is a photographic project featuring a collective of individual headshots. Each sitter looks directly into the camera with a hand wrapped round the chin, in what is a stereotypical querying pose. Only, the hand holding the face does not belong to the same individual.
The querying gesture activates the idea of a problem to be pondered upon, but its mise-en-scene triggers its own immediate querying in the formal set of relationships set in motion between the photograph and the onlooker and its location within a genre. At the level of the sitters, the result fluctuates between notions of collaboration and intimacy on the one hand, and the threat of manipulation or abuse, on the other. Parliament also unsettles photographic genres and their uses: it subverts the traditional ethnographic approach with its return of the subjects’ gaze and staged direction. The same applies for more pragmatic uses of photography with a legal scope: the presence of the censored collaborator and the unspecified external locations stray from these formal languages. Finally, the portraits depart from conventional minimalist portrait photography or the idea of a collection of data, by avoiding uniformity in display. The unstable outcome of these collaborative performances becomes symbolic of the instabilities of methodologies and the production of bodies of knowledge. The title Parliament cites Latour’s functional notion of parliament of people and is also a celebration of the idea of a collective that acknowledges singularity, where collective singularity becomes representative of the idea that gazes and knowledge are reciprocal and mobile.
Parliament is disseminated in a number of material incarnations including a silk banner containing three images from the series: this paradoxical flag conflates wearability, intimacy and propaganda. The project is also materialised as a serial collection of 35mm button badges currently being worn in London, UK and soon in Dublin, EIRE.
Laura Malacart is an interdisciplinary artist. Her work constructs frameworks of interactions between different groups or individuals in order to open a discussion on the founding premises of those initial positions. Drawing from linguistics, social sciences and cultural histories, her work places careful attention on the relationship between content and medium. A past work features professional actors and refugees exploring the potential violence inherent in everyday speech when a subject lacks articulacy in a foreign language (Voicings www.lauramalacart.org.uk). Other collaborations include an opera performer and director, (Mi Piace), the Metropolitan Police and dancers (Flamenco).