Photography and Text by Yash Killa, Copyright 2017
When I was given this topic as my assignment, I knew I could go two ways about it – either go for a direct representation of propaganda by covering a protest or find some other day-to-day activity around us and transcend it into a metaphor for the idea behind propaganda.The latter is what I chose to go for. This allowed me to perceive a certain aspect of our society in a very different and unique way, and further challenged me to convince all who view the project.
Propaganda aims to change and influence people’s views, and is often misleading and biased. It is often seen directly in the form of protests or posters. It can be of political, religious, social or economic in nature, but in the crux of it, it is based on changing people’s perspectives and ideas by using certain tools like social media to spread information.
Something similar is what I see in a barbershop. People getting their hair ‘altered’ by the barbers through tools like scissors and trimmers, can be compared to people getting their views ‘altered’ by the propagandists through tools like social media and protests.
And so, for this project, I focused on taking photos that can help the viewer draw this parallel – from the picture of the trimmers, to the picture of the broom and the cut-off hair. The trimmers being the tool of the influencing, whereas the cut-off hair symbolises the fresh and unique ideas that have been tactfully removed through the process, with the broom cleaning everything at the end.
Furthermore, the final nod given by the customer using the mirrors around him portrays the susceptibility of the common man to social media and other people’s opinions, and how it is they, themselves who allow propagandists to bring an impact to their lives.
Finally, I hope the series of photographs makes this metaphor easier to comprehend and I, maybe encourage people to think more about what happens around them.
About The Author: Yash Killa is a Freshman enrolled in the School of Arts & Sciences, University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2020.