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The Man Who Won The Moustache Contest

The Man Who Won The Moustache Contest
Mary Ellen Mark
Istanbul, Turkey, 1965

What do you see when you look at this?

1. A man with an abnormally large mustache, rivaling Nintendo’s Mario?

or

2. Two men who look like they’re sitting in a room, one smoking– dressed heavily, insinuating the climate is cold? Oh, and one has a large mustache?

(Hopefully yes, otherwise we’re looking at two different pictures.)

      “Photography originated when a context of positivist science–in which the idea that we can know things positively and factually without the mediation of language or representation systems” (Sturken & Cartwright, pg. 285). What were Sturken and Cartwright saying? Simple: photographs have the ability to break the language barrier– thus this being one of many reasons they are a powerful tool of communication!  Regardless of what language you speak, it is highly likely that one of the first things you notice about this photograph is the man with the extremely large mustache. It’s amusing– as it’s intended to be. Maybe in your culture a mustache that size actually represents something, such as a social status– but regardless it’s still going to be the first thing you notice about the photo. The Man Who Won The Moustache Contest.

Joelle

Comments

Nick
Reply

The first thing I noticed was the mustache as well. The context of the image does not imply a contest however, maybe the photographer came up with that title with a sense of humor. I would say that your second interpretation of the photo is more accurate. The men seem like they are waiting for something in a place that is relatively cold.

Bryan Christiansen
Reply

I took a picture of this as well, was fairly close to putting it up here. Us moustachiosos need to stick together, after all…

Erin
Reply

This was one of my favorite pictures at the exhibit! My boyfriend came with me to the exhibit. He has a mustache and is not necessarily the artistic type; however, he really liked this picture and I think he connected to it because of the common-thread of the mustache. Like you said, it goes beyond language. He doesn’t speak or view the world in an artsy way, but the photograph is impartial to that and connects people regardless. I thought it was powerful in a funny way.

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