As Susan Sontag, the noted postmodern essayist, claims, "to photograph is to appropriate the thing photographed. It means putting oneself in a certain relation to the world that feels like knowledge - and, therefore, like power." As informed British and French armchair travelers perused the pages of Siren's album, they would have, no doubt, been reminded of
the Boxer Uprising of 1900, which had the support of the Empress Dowager, T'zu-Hsi, and which led to the slaughter of western missionaries and the eventual occupation of Peiking by British, French, and American troops. The Atgetesque emptiness of Siren's portrait of the Forbidden City and the dilapidated condition of many of the imperial palaces shown have the combined effect of dissecting Peiking's cultural value and proving, yet again, that art imitates life.

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