J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Sunday, May 01, 2016

Avant nous le déluge

Last month the Creators Project at Vice featured Viennese photographer Andreas Franke’s Stavronikita Project, part of his series “The Sinking World.”

As I understand Franke’s method, he dives down to shipwrecks and photographs them. Then he creates digital images combining those backgrounds with scenes of people that he stages in his studio. He places large prints of the resulting images back down on the shipwrecks for several months, where people with scuba gear can view them as they take on a patina of sea life. Finally, those prints are brought to the surface for drier displays and sales.

The Stavronikita was a Greek shipping vessel presently about thirty miles off Key West and eighty feet down. For that site Franke created images of what the Creators Project calls “French Revolution-esque bourgeoise,” though to me the people look very much of the Second Estate. The tableau above, for instance, is titled “Picnic for Three.” With the figures seemingly submerged, and coral starting to encrust their frame, it’s quite a metaphor for the French Revolution.

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