17 November, 2012

Artist Talk: Lantz discusses the Power of Images

Sana Jamal
(L to R) H.E. Lars-Hjalmar Wide, the ambassador of Sweden,
 Michelle Galopin, Asma Khan, Maria Lantz (in blue),
the artist from Sweden at Satrang Gallery

The old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” is quite familiar. But what if the photograph isn't quite the truth? Or what if the picture is taken out of context? Such mystifying and untouched areas of photography were discussed here at an art lecture by Dr Maria Lantz, President of Konsftack, the University college of Art, craft and Design in Sweden. 


Dr. Lantz is accomplished as an artist, curator, and art critic. Dr. Lantz is on a trip to Pakistan and her lecture at the Satrang Gallery was arranged with the support of Lars Hjalmar-Wide, the ambassador of Sweden. A large number of students, artists and art aficionado participated in the discussion that was part of the series of lectures organized by Satrang Galley to promote Art Education.

In her lecture, titled ‘Politics of Place’, Dr Lantz expounded on the power of photographs within the broader framework of the social, cultural, political, or economic power structures of society. She explained that images have the power to sway our ideas about truth, desire, power structures and politics. 

During the talk on powerful photographs, the famed ‘The Situation Room photo’, which received much publicity after the news of bin Laden's death, also came under discussion. The photo, of President Barack Obama and his national security team monitoring ‘Operation Neptune’s Spear’, has achieved icon status as it was splashed across newspapers and television screens across the world. Dr. Lantz contrasted the photograph with an old painting; both portrayed the tension in the room and horrified faces. She added that throughout history, images have been used to elaborate hoaxes, and forgeries that had enormous ripple effects. 

Text, by its nature, is processed more critically whereas images can express a thought much more quickly and convey feelings or emotions that words sometimes cannot. This quality of the image, naturally, makes it a dangerous tool in the wrong hands. But at the same time, it is also most effective tool in provoking powerful and positive responses. The human brain interprets an image as reality and reacts appropriately. Research indicates that 65% people can remember a message containing both images and text, whereas only 10% could remember one that only held text.