Since the European Month of Photography (EMOP) launched in Luxembourg in 2006, it occupies an important place in the MNHA's exhibition programme. Portraits under surveillance, the title of the 2017 edition, is part of exhibition series Looking for the Clouds - Contemporary Photography in Times of Conflict, the joint project of EMOP, the organization that groups together various institution from eight European capitals (Athens, Berlin, Bratislava, Budapest, Ljubljana, Luxembourg, Paris, Vienna).
Starting from the dramatic events of 9/11, the exhibition questions the evolution of photography since the attacks on the World Trade Center. It does not only evoke the surveillance and control measures introduced by the political authorities in order to fight terrorism, but also their direct and indirect effects. The monitoring of any citizen's movements, under suspicion or not, through photographic processes is linked to a vast storage of all types of data resulting from our daily life (trips, shopping, relationships, etc.).
Today, all public places are under video surveillance, particularly airports, train stations and department stores, but also cultural venues. Drones (hence the title of the project) and mobile cameras, often invisible, are becoming more and more prevalent, both on a military and civil level. Face recognition, that is the identification and classification of individuals, is part of the daily routines of governments and private companies.
The works on display refer to the different aspects of this new type of photography and management of personal data that often reduces individuals to computerized information. The particular aesthetics of these images distinguished them from a classical ideal of beauty. Through their reduced and distant style, the photographs reject individual expressiveness as sought by humanist photography. The objective is to create a data model through the classifications of people and the schematization of individual features.