The Coolest-Looking Bureaucrats You’ll Ever See

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The Photo Blog
April 16 2013 11:00 AM

The Coolest-Looking Bureaucrats You’ll Ever See

USA, Texas, bureaucracy, (c) Jan Banning, 2007.USA-18/2007 [Pal., RF (b. 1963)]Rudy Flores (b. 1963) is one the 118 Texas Rangers state law enforcement officers, who cover 254 counties between them. He is based in Palestine, Anderson County, Texas. He is responsible for three counties. Monthly salary: $ 5,000 (3,720 euro).USA-18/2007 [Pal., RF (b. 1963)]Rudy Flores (b. 1963) is een van de in totaal 118 Texas Rangers. Zijn standplaats is Palestine, Anderson County, State of Texas. Hij is verantwoordelijk voor 3 counties. State of Texas. Bruto maandsalaris: 5000 $.
Texas, United States, 2007. Rudy Flores (born in 1963) is one of the 118 Texas Rangers state law enforcement officers who cover 254 counties among them. He is based in Palestine, Anderson County, Texas. He is responsible for three counties. Monthly salary: $ 5,000.

Jan Banning

In many ways, Jan Banning’s series “Bureaucratics” examines the idea of a “desk job” as an international phenomenon.

The project began after Banning was given an assignment to document Dutch development aid and the decentralization of administration in Mozambique--not exactly the most colorful assignment for someone who describes himself as a “people photographer.”

Although Mozambique wouldn’t factor into Banning’s ambitious project (two printings of Bureaucratics, published by Nazraeli Press, have already sold out), it planted the seed that would eventually take Banning to five continents and eight countries documenting those who work in the executive branch of government.

France / Frankrijk, bureaucracy, (c) Jan Banning, 2006France-16/2006 [Cle., RV (b.1957)]Roger Vacher (b. 1957) is a narcotics agent with the national police force in Clermont-Ferrand, Puy-de-Dome department, Auvergne region. Monthly salary: euro 2,200 ($ 2,893).France-16/2006 [Cle., RV (b. 1957)]Roger Vacher (b. 1957) is agent bij de Narcoticabrigade van de Police Nationale in Clermont-Ferrand, departement Puy-de-Dome, region Auvergne. Maandsalaris: 2200 euro (2893 $).
France, 2006. Roger Vacher (born in 1957) is a narcotics agent with the national police force in Clermont-Ferrand, Puy-de-Dome department, Auvergne region. Monthly salary: 2,200 euros.

Jan Banning

Bolivia, bureaucracy (c) Jan Banning, 2005.Constantino Aya Viri Castro (b. 1950), previously a construction worker, is a police officer third class for the municipality of Tinguipaya, Tomás Frías province. The police station does not have a phone, car or typewriter. Monthly salary: 800 bolivianos.
Bolivia, 2005. Constantino Aya Viri Castro (born in 1950), previously a construction worker, is a police officer third class for the municipality of Tinguipaya, Tomás Frías province. The police station does not have a phone, car, or typewriter. Monthly salary: 800 bolivianos.

Jan Banning

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Banning, along with writer Will Tinnemans, chose to focus on Bolivia, China, France, India, Liberia, Russia, the United States, and Yemen for the project.

The two decided to approach the project from a political point of view, instead of simply going after environments where Banning could take beautiful pictures.

“India has the world’s biggest democracy, the United States has the world’s superpower, China as the upcoming superpower, Russia as the former superpower … so each country had to represent something bigger. … Liberia we picked because it was an example, unfortunately, of a country that has recently been involved with civil war and we wanted to focus on how administrations deal with that type of conflict,” Banning said.

China, bureaucracy, (c) Jan Banning, 2007.Wang Ning (b. 1983) works in the Economic Affairs office in Gu Lou community, Yanzhou city, Shandong province. She provides economic assistance to enterprises in her region and is the liaison officer between the government and local enterprises: she helps them get a permit for land use, personnel insurances, environmental permits and taxation registration.There was (at the time) no heating in the room. The maps show regional industrial zones. Wang Ning is not married. She lives at home with her parents. She works from 8.30 to 12 am and from 14 to 16 am. She has no official paid holidays, except the national bank holidays and the weekends. Monthly salary: 2,100 renminbi ($ 260, euro 228).Wang Ning (1983) is adviseur op het Bureau voor Economische Zaken van Gu Lou, een wijk in de stad Yanzhou die valt onder de prefectuur Jining, provincie Shandong. Ze is een soort verbindingsofficier tussen de overheid en lokale ondernemingen: ze helpt hen aan vergunningen, aan info over de eisen w.b. administratie en werknemersrechten. Wang Ning is ongehuwd, ze woont bij haar ouders. Ze werkt vijf dagen per week van half negen tot twaalf en van twee tot vier uur. Ze heeft in oktober een week vakantie en drie dagen met Chinees Nieuwjaar. Maandsalaris: 2100 renminbi (€ 228, euro 228).
China, 2007. Wang Ning (born in 1983) works in the Economic Affairs office in Gu Lou community, Yanzhou city, Shandong province. She provides economic assistance to enterprises in her region and is the liaison officer between the government and local enterprises: She helps them get a permit for land use, personnel insurances, environmental permits, and taxation registration.There was (at the time) no heating in the room. The maps show regional industrial zones. Wang Ning is not married. She lives at home with her parents. She works from 8:30 a.m. to noon and from 2 to 4 p.m. She has no official paid holidays, except the national bank holidays and the weekends. Monthly salary: 2,100 renminbi.

Jan Banning

Liberia, bureaucracy, (c) Jan Banning 2006.Liberia-04/2006 [Mon., AD (b. 1940)]Major Adolph Dalaney (b. 1940) works in the Reconstruction Room of the Traffic Police at the Liberia National Police Headquarters in the capital Monrovia. Monthly salary: barely 1,000 Liberian dollars ($ 18, euro 17). Traffic accident victims at times are willing to pay a little extra if Dalaney"s department quickly draws up a favorable report to present to a judge.Liberia-04/2006 [Mon., AD (b. 1940)]Major Adolph Dalaney (1940) werkt in de Reconstruction Room of the Traffic Police at the Liberia National Police Headquarters in de hoofdstad Monrovia. Maandsalaris: krap 1000 Liberiaanse dollar (17 euro, 18 $). Gedupeerden bij een verkeersongeluk willen wel eens wat extra"s betalen als de afdeling van Dalaney snel in hun voordeel een rapport opmaakt voor de rechter.
Liberia, 2006. Major Adolph Dalaney (born in 1940) works in the Reconstruction Room of the Traffic Police at the Liberia National Police Headquarters in the capital Monrovia. Monthly salary: barely 1,000 Liberian dollars ($18, 17 euros). Traffic accident victims at times are willing to pay a little extra if Dalaney's department quickly draws up a favorable report to present to a judge.

Jan Banning

India, bureaucracy, Bihar, (c) Jan Banning 2004.India-21/2003 [Tha., MD (b. 1960)]Dr. Munni Das (b. 1960) is Block Development Officer in Thakurganj block, an administrative entity within Kishanganj district, State of Bihar. Monthly salary: about 10,000 rupees ($ 220, 200 euro).India-21/2003 [Tha., MD (b. 1960)]Dr. Munni Das (b. 1960) is "Block Development Officer" in Thakurganj Block, Kishanganj district, State of Bihar. Maandsalaris: about 10,000 rupees (200 euro, 220 $).
India, 2004. Dr. Munni Das (born in 1960) is Block Development Officer in Thakurganj block, an administrative entity within Kishanganj district, State of Bihar. Monthly salary: about 10,000 rupees.

Jan Banning

Photographing those involved with the bureaucracy of the executive branch of government isn’t the most dynamic idea, at least aesthetically, so Banning decided to shoot very specifically with the goal of expressing elements of people who deal with rules and regulations.

The solution would be to shoot with a square format, “the least dynamic compositional format you can use,” Banning said.

The Dutch painter Piet Mondrian also inspired Banning, specifically Mondrian’s use of squares and rectangles in his paintings.

 “I wanted to get as many squares and rectangles in the picture, and in the middle of the straight lines is an individual who has to interpret these regulations … and adds his own character to the room he is working in. … I thought it was an interesting metaphor to have a round person in the surroundings of straight lines. … So I have always considered this to be a conceptual documentary project. Documentary because I’m documenting the world around me, but it is based on a visual concept, so I’m not just going to any office and photographing just anyone.”

Yemen, bureaucracy, (c) Jan Banning 2006.Yemen-35/2006 [AIM., AAN (b. 1982)]Alham Abdulwaze Nuzeli (b. 1982) works at the regional office of the Ministry of Tithing and Alms in the city of Al-Mahwit, Al-Mahwit governorate. Monthly salary: 12,000 rial ($ 67, euro 46).Behind het a portrait of president Saleh of Yemen.Yemen-35/2006 [AlM., AAN (b. 1982)]Alham Abdulwaze Nuzeli (b. 1982) werkt op het regionaal kantoor van het ministerie van Zakat (religieuze belasting) in the city of Al-Mahwit, governorate Al-Mahwit. Maandsalaris: 12,000 Rial (46 euro, 67 $).
Yemen, 2006. Alham Abdulwaze Nuzeli (born in 1982) works at the regional office of the Ministry of Tithing and Alms in the city of Al-Mahwit, Al-Mahwit governorate. Monthly salary: 12,000 rial.

Jan Banning

Russia, Siberia, province Tomsk. Bureaucracy (c) Jan Banning, 2004.Rusland, Siberie, prov. Tomsk, bureaucratie.Russia-25/2004 [Tom., LVM (b. 1959)]Lyudmila Vasilyevna Malkova (b. 1959) is a secretary to the mayor of the city of Tomsk, Tomsk province. She and her colleague take turns, working every other day, seven days a week, at least 12 hours a day. Monthly salary: 10,500 rubles ($ 375, euro 285). Russia-25/2004 [Tom., LVM (b. 1959)]Lyudmila Vasilyevna Malkova (b. 1959) is secretaresse van de burgemeester van de stad Tomsk, Oblast Tomsk. Werktijden: zij en haar collega wisselen elkaar per dag af, 7 dagen dagen per week en minimaal 12 uur per dag. Maandsalaris: 10,500 roebel (285 euro, 375 $).
Russia, 2004. Lyudmila Vasilyevna Malkova (born in 1959) is a secretary to the mayor of the city of Tomsk, Tomsk province. She and her colleague take turns, working every other day, seven days a week, at least 12 hours a day. Monthly salary: 10,500 rubles.

Jan Banning

Getting permission to photograph the people turned out to be a big problem, not only because it was a time waster but also because Banning wanted to avoid having environments cleaned up or arranged differently to make a better impression. Tinnemans also helped distract the subjects by interviewing them while Banning was photographing them in order to prevent them from changing their surroundings or cleaning up their offices.

Banning and Tinnemans eventually gave up trying to work with the Vatican or Cuba since working through their complicated bureaucracies proved too difficult.