Les Otages, 2014, video installation, 15 inches screens, captions, variable dimensions (images: Clotilde Reiss, Hervé Ghesquière, Hussein Hanoun). Produced with the support of the DICRéAM / CNC

The Hostages examines the propagation and proliferation of a single portrait photograph over the internet. Each screen broadcasts every variation of the same portrait available on the web. The portraits are those of ex-hostages and are accompanied by situational texts. The installation offers a critical view on the ceaseless flow of images that surround us every day.

The men and women who are taken hostage around the world are often unknown to the general public. Their capture grants them sudden fame, but they are represented by a single photograph, often chosen by default. Neither the origin nor the choice of this image are controlled by the subject or by the media that broadcasts it. The lack of available images in this situation means the same picture is used over and over again.

Each time the image is used, it is subject to several micro-changes: cropping, colour-correction, resolution transformation. The situation in which the photograph was taken has nothing in common with the event they are used to illustrate, and they are modified to suit the media environment in which they are presented. The subjects are taken “hostage” in a way by their representation, unique but non-identical.