“Citizen Z” is an ongoing project that re-documents the images that each new day brings, press photographs- moments frozen in time, which encapsulate something of our contemporaneity. We live in an age when machines are making images for “machines”. We encounter the “news” on our screens, images are fleeting and momentary. Individual suffering often gets lost, becoming a part of the debris that piles sky-high around us as we are thrust into the future. Walter Benjamin has shown us that “progress” has proved to be a cruel illusion, a “catastrophe which keeps piling ruin upon ruin”. The utter shock of what we see often fails to move us; stories are forgotten quickly, becoming at the very best a selection from yesterday’s newspaper. This series, through selections from news photos that have appeared over the past year, re-documents the extraordinary struggles people are facing using the oldest technology known to us- drawing. I hope that each individual expression “speaks” more than the grand narratives that we are consistently bombarded with every day. Each time this series is exhibited, viewers are invited to interact with these artworks, take them off the self, and contemplate, at their own pace, the times we live in. For, if we cannot understand someone’s pain, what’s the point of this life or any other?
Varunika Saraf, 2016