15.4 x 24 cm
Florian Göttke collected hundreds of press and amateur photographs of the toppling of statues of Saddam Hussein from the internet. He used this digital archive to create the iconographic project Toppled.
A close reading of these images reveals an astonishing amount of information about what happened in Iraq, about the statues’ desecration and humiliation, their transformation from manifestations of Saddam’s totalitarian power into icons for the defeat of his regime, their expulsion from the public sphere, their appropriation into his enemies’ museums and their symbolic reinterpretation for use in anti-war protests.
In her article on Toppled in Open 13 The Rise of the Informal Media, Jorinde Seijdel wrote: ‘The destruction of images guarantees the production of images. Images also become icons themselves – or idols, depending on one’s point of view – that can be deployed as weapons in today’s political, cultural and religious battlefields. To an increasing degree, wars also take place at the level of the image.’
The photographs in Toppled show an array of attitudes towards the sculptures that expose differences between the cultures but also universally valid aspects of human relationships with carved representations. It becomes apparent, that even in our modern image culture, the ancient magical link between the person (Saddam) and his representation (statue) is still alive in the human psyche.