The Rayograph

Bureaucracy in Photographs

Dutch photographer Jan Banning takes a fascinating look at the lives and livelihoods of men and women around the world in his series “Bureaucratics.”

From the artist’s website:
Bureaucratics is a project consisting of a book (ISBN 978-1-59005-232-7) and exhibition containing 50 photographs, the product of an anarchist’s heart, a historian’s mind and an artist’s eye. It is a comparative photographic study of the culture, rituals and symbols of state civil administrations and its servants in eight countries on five continents, selected on the basis of polical, historical and cultural considerations: Bolivia, China, France, India, Liberia, Russia, the United States, and Yemen. In each country, I visited up to hundreds of offices of members of the executive in different services and at different levels. The visits were unannounced and the accompanying writer, Will Tinnemans, by interviewing kept the employees from tidying up or clearing the office. That way, the photos show what a local citizen would be confronted with when entering.


Bihar, India. Sushma Prasad (b. 1962) is an assistant clerk at the Cabinet Secretary of the State of Bihar (population 83 million) in The Old Secretariat in the state capital, Patna. She was hired “on compassionate grounds” because of the death of her husband, who until 1997 worked in the same department. Monthly salary: 5,000 rupees ($110, euro 100). Text – Jan Banning.


Yemen. Alham Abdulwaze Nuzeli (b. 1982) works at the regional office of the Ministry of Tithing and Alms in the city of Al-Mahwit, Al-Mahwit governorate. Monthly salary: 12,000 rial ($67, euro 46). Behind her a portrait of president Saleh of Yemen. Text – Jan Banning.


Russia, Siberia, province Tomsk. Sergej Michailovich Osipchuk (b. 1974) is the lone police officer in the village of Oktyabrsky (some 2000 inhabitants), Tomsk province. He does not have a police car or one of his own, not even a bicycle. He does not want to reveal his salary, but informed sources put the monthly salary of an officer of his rank and age at approximately 4,000 rubles ($143, euro 108). Text – Jan Banning.

View more of these images online at the artist’s gallery. Each image is accompanied by text introducing the photographed individual, his/her position and salary, so scroll over image to read.

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This entry was published on May 30, 2011 at 1:27 PM and is filed under Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

One thought on “Bureaucracy in Photographs

  1. Steve Ramirez on said:

    Stark,telling,sad, depressing…lives sold for a meager pay and jobs that have little meaning. Reflective.

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