Mitra Tabrizian

City, London, 2008

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CountryIran / England
Date2008
Medium/DimensionsC-type photographic print
CreditsCourtesy of ProjectB
VenueStills

This meticulously choreographed photograph of a pack of bankers contrasts sharply with Andreas Gursky’s trading pit (also in the exhibition). His yawning, paper-strewn chaos has been replaced with a cool, slick panorama. Mitra Tabrizian’s protagonists ‘play themselves’ standing stock-still in the grand marble foyer of a City bank. Though their sharp suits and polished shoes suggest that they are in their natural habitat, a strange, disjointed feeling pervades the scene. Indifferent to each other, the men stare into the middle distance, their individualist swagger perhaps slightly perturbed by recent events: this image was produced at the start of the 2007-08 financial crisis.

The sense of uneasy artificiality allows the hard surface of the photograph to crack a little. The demand to conform is emphasised to the extent that these apparently powerful men – with their identical suits and self-assured stances – appear to be entirely produced by the corporate architecture that surrounds them. By presenting them as mere automatons of the system, Tabrizian taps into one of the hottest debates to emerge in the wake of the crisis: where do the ethical and moral capacities of an economic system reside if not in its human proponents?