Political Chaos is the sixth addition to the French publisher Études’s Blue Books series and arose from a three-month residency that Kooiker completed back in 2006. Shot in the Chinese coastal town of Xiamen, the circular images show the heads of isolated swimmers, bobbing above the surface of the stretch of water that separates China and Taiwan. The photographs all sit against a black background and have been tinted with a range of hues – from subtle pastel casts through to more dominant reds and blues. An underlying question surrounds the overall destination of these swimmers and the economic forces that have facilitated their current leisure time. The accompanying text references the iconic images of Chairman Mao Zedong’s PR-orchestrated Yangzi dips that were designed to quell rumours of political discontent at the time. As viewers, we are confronted with our own telescopic gaze and left to ponder if these figures are to function as metaphors for a modern-day Mao, or something altogether more slippery.
£30 / 48pp / April 2013 / Études Books
Reviewed by James D. Clark
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