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November 19, 2010

2

Beauty in the Business world: Andreas Gursky shows East meets West, Ancient meets (post)Modern

by quaesitor

Was leafing through the Royal Academy of Art magazine this week – and encountered this photograph filling a whole page. Was blown away.

It’s utterly mesmerising and bewildering all at the same time. Where are we? An airport? A fancy dress party? A film set? Who are all these people anyway? And what are they up to?

Without wanting to be patronising at all, it almost seems like a set up for a live-action Where’s Wally competition…

It is in fact a photograph taken in 2007 by Andreas Gursky called Kuwait Stock Exchange I. And it manages to convey the incongruities of the modern world, with a forum equipped with the latest communications technology populated by hundreds of men (not a woman in sight), dressed in the formality and uniformity of classic Arab desert dress. It is a picture of anonymity – even those who knew them wouldn’t really be able to tell them apart from this angle – it all looks beautifully stage-managed and set up. But i suspect it isn’t.

There are all kinds of interesting contrasts with another of his images, this time from the Chicago Board of Trade:


This is equally mesmerising – but this time is a living fireworks display of colour. Half close your eyes, and it could almost be a Jackson Pollock. Wonderful.

Photography at its best should do this – show us the world in a new way. Here is beauty in the rawest of capitalist temples… Surprising really.

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