Luke Richards (b.1995, Cardiff) is a recent graduate of the Documentary Photography course at USW, Cardiff (formerly Newport). His work aims to connect with contemporary political dialogues through allegorical image making; documenting and unpicking the mechanisms through which social change occurs. The heavily allusive and seemingly performative aesthetics are central to the challenging and intervention of conventional documentary practice, therefore untying the photographs from a singular or linear narrative thread. As such, the blurring and synthesis of boundaries and mediums is vital to the production of the photographs and the reflexive position of the artist.
Under Black Sun
In his vision of creating a unique, homogenous identity, Mussolini created the concept of the New Man, placing himself as the hegemonic masculine ideal and using the language, symbolism and values of the Ancient Roman past to gain popular support. It was an attempt to oversee a reclamation of Roman virility through the performance of a dynamic and charismatic character, proliferating this image through various forms of propaganda in radio broadcasts, speeches and still and moving images. At the height of his power he oversaw the construction of large, state-of-the-art, film production facilities that were home to vast sets of Ancient Rome; itself surreally located within the capital city.
Under Black Sun traces this legacy through the performance of it’s modern-day followers, once again depicting the New Man against the backdrop of contemporary Rome. Across Italy, like Europe, the influence and appeal of the Far Right is increasing and with this a complication of how the country confronts and recounts its various histories. The reaffirmation of these values indicates an inability to reconcile the displacement of their identity and value system within an increasingly globalized and progressive West, once defined by their Ancient ancestors.
Shot on motion picture film, the work follows how Far Right political parties in Italy continue to use the Fascist aesthetics of Roman symbolism and gladiatorial performance to promote their agenda; blurring the lines between reality and the cinematic, present and past.
To view more of Luke’s work please visit his website.