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Mundane mug shot hides a sinister secret

A more sinister side to the seemingly mundane mug shot will be explored by Brunel Journalism lecturer Paul Lashmar and a panel of experts this weekend.

Paul will discuss how the simple photographic format has evolved from its practical purpose to a tool of artistic intent – more often than not being used by the media to criminalise, humiliate and sexualise the subject.

He said: "The mug shot has had a fascinating, controversial history and the semiotics of the mugshot bestow profound meaning. Look how the Auschwitz mugshots were used to criminalise the Jewish race. When used in the media or online the mugshot is used to 'other', shame, demean, criminalise or even sexualise the subject. Rarely are they used to evoke sympathy or empathy.”

The discussion ‘Mug Shots Through History’ will form part of the Format Photography Festival in Derby’s QUAD on Saturday 28 March. For more information, visit www.formatfestival.com/events/mug-shots-through-history