Juxtaposition in photography can be as simple as placing two photographs side by side. But juxtaposition can also be said to happen within the frame in still life when objects are purposely placed together. In photomontage, rougher and often amusing juxtapositions result from sticking bits of pictures together. Have a look at the work of John Heartfield and Hannah Höch to prepare for this exercise. Heartfield’s photomontages are politically charged images designed to express social ills: http://www.getty.edu/art/exhibitions/heartfield For more advanced contemporary examples, search for Beate Gutschow’s ‘S’ series.
1. Get a few old magazines or newspapers.
2. Decide on a background picture – for example, a large view of space or any place.
3. Now add to it a figure or at least the head and shoulders of a person.
4. Now find some other images that you can substitute for the person’s head (for example a cabbage) or their eyes (telescopes) or mouth (a pothole). Stick them on the face.
5. Photograph the result.
As you can see, the process tends to result in bizarre combinations. But there is a deeper meaning to this process. By cutting and pasting fragments of images, you’re choosing how a picture should be made and offering an interpretation of the different subjects you choose. You’re also constructing an image in a way that would be impossible to construct in reality.
PROCESS: For this exercise, I chose 7 different images – The background, the image of a person, in this case, our prime minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, a chocolate crown, two airplanes, two watch movements.
I didn’t plan this unless I started to collect images from the newspapers. Once I began, it all started to come together on its own – there were so many ideas that I want to take forward and look forward to the next exercise of creating a photomontage in Photoshop.
The aim was to keep this montage simple and yet depict his image is in the public eye. The eyes have been replaced by watch dial movements, indicative of the industrial growth and development Modi is pushing. The chocolate crown is indicative of the fact that the self-proclaimed crown is neither everlasting nor steady. The airplanes on the shoulders are indicative of the fact that he is the first Prime Minister who is always traveling, in order to reaffirm the international relations with other countries. The background image is the utopia image that he has in his mind for India, which neither exists her nor can ever be. It is meant to be a satire on the current government’s vision while the reality is starkly different.
A simple yet enjoyable exercise – it was really fun to do and to get effective results with combining images.