Poor Prime minister (2014)

Photo: Anders Lindén

Poor Stefan Löfven. Who sold all his kittens while he was at work? 😭 (2014)

On the surface, the cover image of Stefan Löfven for Icon Magazine bears all the classic markers of a traditional (masculine) power portrait:

1. He stands up. A way to signal capability and action-readiness.

2. He is photographed from a frog’s perspective. A tried and tested way – in propaganda photography, for example – to portray someone as bigger, more important, superior.

3. Depicted in some kind of salon of power (judging by the fat gold frame in the background).

4. He doesn’t smile. Because that would show that we are on an equal level, him and us. An old-fashioned, hierarchical view of leadership.

5. He tries to show 0 signs of inner life, according to what media researcher Anja Hirdman (in The Lonely Phallus) calls “the myth of a certain type of masculinity – the one who can control himself and his emotions, who must appear independent and authoritative. “

But… The eyes. The worry wrinkle. The awkwardly open, hanging hands. In the middle of the imagery of power, you can, if you want, see a vulnerable person.

I think that may be what the photographer intended. “Are you ready for a fight, Stefan?” is the headline. He had just been appointed Prime Minister of Sweden. The welder from Ångermanland. The outsider. “Are you ready for Stockholm and career politicians who were born with razor blades on their elbows, Stefan? Have you worn a suit before? You don’t have to stand exactly the same as the mannequin, Stefan!”

What outweighs the impression for you? The power composition or Stefan’s triangle of sadness?

As always, therre’s a simple way to see if the photo would pass the gender test. To ask: Would a woman have been portrayed so expressionless? Just standing against a wall, hands hanging by the sides like two pieces of meat?

In any case, I think it’s a shame that more photographers haven’t made use of Stefan Löfven’s cute-shock potential!

Photo: me.