This is Willem
Shortly after the killing of Osama bin Laden in May 2011, around the globe different television channels reported not about the death of Osama in their news broadcasts, but about the death of Obama. One transposed word and the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and US president is declared dead. A single letter is enough to simply turn the identities around – in the very medium that many people still possibly consider to be the most authentic and true. Strangely enough, it is above all catastrophes and traumatic experiences that seem to be predestined to expose the mechanisms of media reporting and to examine the functionality and structures of the media use of photography.
Willem Popelier is not concerned with the events themselves but with those who initiated them, the persons who are partly responsible for them, are a victim of them or have some kind of relationship to them. In the process, his artistic approach has an almost archeological function. This exposes precisely those mechanisms generated by an omnipresent media reality. Suddenly, Popelier integrates his own person into this correlation of people who operate on a global-political level – “This is Wilem Popelier”. In this way, he researches and analyses the photographic means of representing identity, whether in a family photo album, in the weekly addresses given by the US president or in the worldwide dissemination and construction of the picture of Osama bin Laden after his killing. How and for what reason is identity staged with the aid of photography, which role does the way that images are distributed play, for example through media such as Internet, television or print media? How easily identities can be switched – even if only due to a slip of the tongue – is not just blatantly obvious in the case of Osama/ Obama.
C/O Berlin will present five selected series from Willem Popelier's complete works: This is me & This is me, Rejected Identities, Osama Papers, Obscured Classified Document, Your Weekly Address.