Thursday, November 01, 2007


This ad for Te Papa’s exhibition Tangata o le Mona features the icon photograph for the show. Under it is the disclaimer “Based on a photograph by Glen Jowitt, Double Afro’ The story, although well publicised in Wellington is worth repeating. Initially Te Papa intended using the original Jowitt pic and, in a burst of PR fever asked the nation to help them find the identity subject. Big mistake. Turned out the guy wearing the iconic top was Maori and not (sic) Polynesian as Te Papa had hoped. As Te Papa was most interested in the message on the jersey. As their PR guy said, "The T-shirt design and what it said fitted well with what the exhibition is about and they didn't want to lose that." And so Te Papa came to an obvious solution, change the Polynesian to the non-Maori version you see above. This sort of photographic manipulation is not new of course. The National Geographic famously squeezed the Great Pyrimids of Giza together to fit their portrait format mag. Time ‘blacked’ O.J Simpson and, closer to the Te Papa model, Abe Lincoln ‘s head was popped onto Southern politician John Calhoun’s body to make his iconic image more presentable. You can see these and twelve other dubiously altered images here.