Adding text to a photograph from news agency feeds can only go in one or two ways – politics and comedy – or maybe also funny politics. Having chosen this image showing a response to the Charlie Hebdo attrocities, when people took to the streets of Paris to demonstrate their solidarity with the victims, I wasted quite a bit of time thinking about a political caption that didn’t ‘change the message’ so much as underlined or added to it. I had not taken in the instruction properly and stumbled around with a paraphrase of Stephen Fry that was too complicated to play with.
So, I resorted to comedy.
For me, the attraction of the image is the man holding the massive pencil in the air. This made me think about a superhero, ‘Pencilman’. The obvious visual reference in the photograph is to Eugene Delacroix’s painting Liberty Leading the People (1830), and so the caption was designed in the style of an exhibition attribution plate fastened to the frame of a painting. The figure of ‘Liberty’ is simply imagined to be replaced by the less symbolic figure of ‘Pencilman’. The caption was built from shapes and textures in PowerPoint and exported as a JPG. On reflection, having the plate on the image rather than on the frame looks a bit awkward, but I like the jokey reference to the romantic revolutionary painting that the photograph resembles.