Artist Blog

Every week an artist whose single image was published by Der Greif is given a platform in which to blog about contemporary photography.

On Capital, Fascism, and Consumerism

Dec 08, 2019 - Jason Koxvold

Characters in Varisco’s text changed allegiance with some regularity. One of the unspoken truths in any war is that ideology is not the primary motivator; our needs are survival, power, and profit.


With the understanding that our ongoing wars in the Middle East were initiated as a business concern, I was interested in the spaces in which power is brokered: the opulent boardrooms of Italian banks, and their white-celled vaults, deep below the streets of Milan. In each of these spaces, I was photographed at every turn by the ubiquitous surveillance infrastructure that defines our present moment.


In today’s Italy, buildings are wrapped in oversized black and white portraiture advertising luxury goods. That commercial language seemed to echo the photographs of Varisco and his family; I began to appropriate this language to rephotograph characters from the story, juxtaposing my new portraits with photographs of the advertisements, gleaming in the golden hour as they wrap and obscure historical buildings. In my photographs, however, the subjects bear the marks of torture; imaginary Khashoggis, or unnamed Iraqis at Abu Ghraib. Varisco describes his own torture at the hands of the Fascists in detail. One man, mistaken for my grandfather, was tortured so extensively that he committed suicide rather than be tortured again.