© Pavel Maria Smejkal. From the 'Stars' series

For some, my deliberations about Bruce Gilden/Haitians might seem tepid compared to Pavel Maria Smejkal‘s use of people-as-props for his photographic art.

Smejkal’s Stars series is potentially about the reversal of fates, wasted potential, chance events and turns of fortune. It is also potentially insulting.

The question for me is whether digital composites of Auschwitz inmates and the faces of silver-screen stars is a good way to communicate an actually important philosophical position. Mrs. Deane (Beierle or Kei­jser) can’t say that Smejkal’s work is a success or not because they stumble at its first requirement to recognise the faces of inserted celebrities! Which is a nice side-step.

I too intend to hang up my judgement on this and simply pass on notice of the project for you to decide. My editor said a few months ago that Western culture – and photography in particular – had no sacred cows left to slaughter. In the manner in which sentiment and controversy whirl past without touching the sides these days, right now, I am inclined to agree.

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Just as a footnote, Smejkal’s Stars series reminds me of Agan Harahap’s work Super Hero.