Interrogations (2006-13) | What is non-fiction? For seven years photographer Donald Weber sought to become an Invisible Man down in the lower precincts of Russia and Ukraine, where he took the images in this project. The unseen subject is Power. His aim was to let the naked truth of the human condition to emerge in the intimacy of the police interrogation room, without affecting the final outcome. He wanted the denied to tell their story through him.

Of course, he was also interrogating the discipline of photography itself, and his own claims as a professional artist. The question of non-fiction’s purpose only produced more questions: Is Power the same everywhere? Is it subject to discoverable laws or patterns? Does Power have any meaning or purpose? Or is it just a terrible game?

These photographs show us that Power is dangerous and exhilarating and expands in proportion to its invisibility. We see how terror and triumph greet its arrival with faint gestures, a trembling finger, a half- smile. But they don’t show us if Power is made by human societies, or if it is the outcome of vast colloquies between nature and history. All we see are its artifacts. We are those artifacts.

The idea that we may be playthings of Power is, of course, profoundly disturbing. Seven years is a long time to spend working intensely on any project. The artist runs the risk of becoming a permanent Invisible, immune and indifferent to the plight of others, as he transgresses the boundaries of traditional social values and critical judgment.

No one who has left the precincts of the ordinary can return to their former innocence. The fate of the Invisible Man was that he could not help revealing the strangely impoverished mechanisms of the society he provoked, as he struggled to become visible again. No one in these photographs is innocent; they have all traveled beyond the realm of common experience. Their fate as subjects of Power — as interrogators or prisoners — gives them a special distinction they will carry to their graves.

Their special distinction remains nameless. Non-fiction is a practice of de-familiarization. The artist’s goal is to shock us with our own wordlessness: to show us the proofs of life in its willful, alternative histories.

Text by Larry Frolick

(01) Provocations (02) Utterances (03) Insinuations (04) Instigations (05) Investigations (06) Insubordinations (07) Inversions (08) Perturbations (09) Deviations (10) Anomalies (11) Incendiaries (12) Suggestions (13) Intimations (14) Inclinations. ︎︎︎Exhaust Fumes