Sophie Barbasch — Military Logic
I went to photograph the military police school in Fortaleza, Brazil in 2016, right when President Dilma Rouseff was being removed from office in what many saw as a coup. It brought to mind the fragility of democracy and the memory of the dictatorship, particularly as conservatives were calling for a return to military rule.
Although the military police is a separate institution from the military itself, it was closely allied with the dictatorship and in many ways continues to embody the same politics.
I was curious to see how the students reacted to a program that prioritizes discipline and hierarchy amidst the political tensions of 2016. But what struck me the most was not the history or context so much as the way they looked at each other. In an environment that is all about surveillance and optics, I observed them observing each other. I thought about how the simple act of looking can be disruptive. This idea is perhaps even more relevant now in 2019, as the far-right Jair Bolsonaro begins his presidency, challenges various democratic institutions, and fills his cabinet with members of the military.
Bio: Sophie Barbasch is a New York based photographer. She earned her MFA in photography from the Rhode Island School of Design and her BA in Art and Art History from Brown University. Selected grants and residencies include the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, the Blue Mountain Center, and a Fulbright Fellowship to Brazil. To see more of Sophie Barbasch’s work visit — Website / Instagram.