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Facing Tyranny: Power! Photos! Freedom!

despots say “cheese” on their ascent to power...

Facing Tyranny: Power! Photos! Freedom!

Muammar Gaddaffi is seen in various stages of his career, from handsome fledgling ruler, later sitting comfortably while his citizens are being hanged in the street, in another shot the Libyan is in full-blown international statesman mode clutching the hand of an apparently underwhelmed Leonid Brezhnev...

Nicolas Righetti
Propagandaposter van Bachar al-Assad
tussen de bloempotten in Damascus,
Damascus 2007

There’s a horribly charming quality to the portraits of foreign leaders in the Power! Photos! Freedom! Exhibition – nothing in the subjects’ expressions that hint at the terrible brutality they would inflict on their populace or the wider world. While we don’t profess to be great geopolitical analysts, it seems a given that anyone who takes power in a military uniform is going to be misbehaving on egregious levels before they’ve had time to make up reasons for all their medals, but what about the unassuming, friendly uncle-type figures in neat suits who turn out to be equally awful bastards?

The benign or smiling faces of some of recent history’s worst specimens of humanity have been collected for the exhibition at Antwerp’s Fotomuseum, as well as some examples of the atrocities committed by or under their regimes. The headmasterly Bashar al-Assad gazes with dispassionate calmness from flags and posters with not a hint of the genocidal tendencies the Syrian ruler has hitherto revealed. Muammar Gaddaffi is seen in various stages of his career, from handsome fledgling ruler, later sitting comfortably while his citizens are being hanged in the street, in another shot the Libyan is in full-blown international statesman mode clutching the hand of an apparently underwhelmed Leonid Brezhnev.

This rather grimly fascinating chronicle of the evolution of evil will remain unmasked until 9th June.

Power! Photos! Freedom!

Kolonel Kadhafi in luchtmachtuniform op de
Arabische Top in Tripoli, Libië, 2 December 1977
© Courtesy Michael Christopher Brown/
Human Rights Watch

Power! Photos! Freedom!

Sovjet-leider Leonid Brezjnev en kolonel Kadhafi.
Moskou, 27 april, 1981
© Courtesy Michael Christopher Brown/
Human Rights Watch

Power! Photos! Freedom!

Twee mensen die geëxecuteerd warden
in Benghazi zeehaven. 7 April, 1977
© Courtesy of Peter Bouckaert/
Human Rights Watch

Power! Photos! Freedom!

Nicolas Righetti
Propagandaposter van Bachar al-Assad
in een winkel in Damascus,
Damascus 2007

Power! Photos! Freedom!

Guillotine Imaginaire,
video still, 2013
© Joachim Ben Yakoub

Power! Photos! Freedom!

President Nasser van Egypte,
Kolonel Kadhafi en president Gaafar Nimiery van Soedan
wuiven naar de massa in het Benghazi sportstadium,
December 1969
© Courtesy Michael Christopher Brown/
Human Rights Watch

Power! Photos! Freedom!

Kolonel Kadhafi en PLO leider Yasser Arafat omstreeks 1970,
waarschijnlijk naar aanleiding van de eerste
verjaardag van de revolutie van 1969
© Courtesy Michael Christopher Brown/
Human Rights Watch

Power! Photos! Freedom!

Nicolas Righetti
Een bache van Bachar al-Assad
van 5×5 meter opgehangen aan een leegstaand gebouw,
Damascus 2007

Power! Photos! Freedom!

President Nasser van Egypte,
Kolonel Kadhafi en een fan in het Benghazi sportstadium
tijdens Nassers bezoek aan Libië.
Benghazi, December 1969
© Courtesy Michael Christopher Brown/
Human Rights Watch

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