The Politics of the Face: Manifestations of Che Guevara’s Image and Its Collage of Renderings and Agency
Abstract. My interest in this image of Guevara and how it worked was rooted in the perception of its performative capability to gather people and sanction action that was inherently productive and powerful at a grassroots level.
I became curious about vernacular (non-institutional) visual communication. Through this work I ask what are the critical visual sociological affordances and limitations of exploring visual events through a non-reductive constellation of qualitative approaches cohering around emergent themes. Thus I mix and transgress visual sociological approaches using phenomenology, semiotics, and ethnography with a collage approach centered in Indigenous Research Methodologies. The final product (6′ x4′ collage & set of scrolls), can also be considered an art/ifact. Thus, I present the dissertation as hybrid because form and content are only artificially extricable, and propositional form is not always able to articulate what is knowable. Rather than striving for finite understandings, or to achieve “mastery,” I create a space for play, a structural possibility for understanding something about the image of Che Guevara’s face, an image that so many feel they understand and resonate with powerfully, and yet so few are able to account for. And thus we move from guerrilla warfare, to guerrilla artfare, while recognizing that the same processes and forms I use to open spaces can be used equally by others wishing to close them. Still my focus is on art as something that can create and critique “or ironicize manifestations or expressions of hegemonic political or religious power” (Preziosi, 2009, p.12). The limits of language are not equal to the limits of our cognition. Many academic traditions promote the view that knowing something requires its formulation in words. But is it really the case that we cannot know what we cannot verbally assert?