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Beyond a Filtered Image: ‘Crop’ Looks at the Power of Image in Egypt’s Politics

February 8, 2022

Sleek hair. A cropped, clean background. Carefully and strategically themed pose. Visually symbolic colors. For just a few seconds, and through just one image, the identity of a nation is defined through a figure. With the Great Pyramids in Giza as the backdrop, former President Anwar El Sadat was once pictured by American photographer David Hume Kennerly standing tall like a modern pharaoh, exuding power, independence, and authority. The power of the image did not lie in any real story, but simply in its aesthetic and portrayal of modern Egypt. While the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” is often used to symbolize the power of an image, when it comes to political photography, sometimes there is no need for any story, meaning or words. What is far more important is how the visual – the glitzy image – constructs and manufactures a nation’s identity or a politician’s personality, and the other way around. It all truly began with President John F. Kennedy (JFK) in the 1960s, as it is often said that JFK created a presidency for the “television age”. During the first-ever televised general-election presidential debate,…

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