Name, first nameMeret BuserYear of birth1995UniversityFHNWField of Interest / research fieldCommunication Design / Visual CommunicationTitle of projectDepicting Inequality –AbstractStill-life photography as an expansion of documentary practice
In Switzerland women in average earn around 12 percent less than their male colleagues. Even in one of the wealthiest countries in Europe the gender pay gap is still eminent. Social inequities like the wage discrimination of women are often result of complex processes that de facto are invisible. Documentary Photography – The practise which had prescribed itself to the visualization social injustice and sorrow contains a lot of conflicts in its medium itself. Above all a photograph can – after Roland Barthes only depict what in that particular moment was placed in front of the camera. As a result of this indexical nature of photography in order to depict complicated processes many documentary photographer make use of what Abigail Solomon Godeau names their instinct as photographers. ¬– Complex topics get personalized and humanized, many humanitarian catastrophes of the recent time have a sort of mascot. For the great depression this might me Florence Thompson, better known as Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother, for the Vietnam War, it probably is the young Thi Kim Púc and her siblings, who are depicted on Nick Ùt’s famous photograph Terror of War. This personalization of complex topics always also is a reduction. Disadvantaged social classes become particular cases. The depicted persons are transformed into a minority. A documentary practise as such is dangerous because it mediates a distorted image of reality.

The opening up of a merely documentarist photographic tradition towards one that acknowledges the role of the photographer more consciously and also allows the photographer to take action and to express thoughts and ideas by the use of staged photography, metaphors or allegories offers a new dimension to the field. In times like these where discussions about representations are and should be politically driven a mere depiction of victims is not fulfilling anymore. Discussions around post photography, which Martha Rosler started in 1996, and which as a term inserted itself in the field of photography-theory around 2010 offer the theoretical framework to this work.
The use of allegories, symbols and metaphors offers a level of abstraction. Away from the particular towards the more general. In the scope of her Master Thesis Meret Buser explores the possibilities that still-life photography offers to depict social injustices on the example of gender inequality. By the production of visual Allegories and Metaphors Buser tries to elevate the discussion.

By the production of visual allegories Buser manages to create a pictorial world that takes the topic of gender inequalities and wage discrimination to another level. Although no personification or trivialization takes places in her images, the works images are touching in an odd way. Because the photographs are more general and do not point out the topic of gender inequality bluntly, the work reaches a much broader public. The goal of depicting inequality is not to doctrine an opinion onto the onlooker but rather to create an image that communicates with the viewer on several layers and make him think.
TutorsMarion Fink, Nicolaj van der Meulen, Michael RennerFileDownload file