The 'photographic Pietà' emerged from seeing protests in Cyprus where family members held pictures of relatives up to the media; and particularly one event in 1996. Two articles explore the properties of multiple-generations inside photographic portraits, the most recent one (2016) is in The Cyprus Review.


abstract from Photography and Cyprus (2014):

The disappearance of persons is not a phenomenon limited to modern warfare. But the photojournalistic image of a bereaved or worried person holding the photograph of a relative has only recently become common. The image has a number of natural prerequisites that put it in modern time: the invention of the camera, a global media, and a widening understanding of individual human rights. While people have posed for photographs holding other photos since the popularization of photography as a medium, it was not until well into the twentieth century – and specifically in Cyprus and Argentina – where the images of missing persons began to be held up to the photojournalist’s lens.

The terms of this kind of picture making are different. In the past the photographed photo was usually a declaration of family: a sort of pictorial family tree. But when a photojournalist captures a photograph within a photo, it is part of a discourse with the larger public that poses a question and seems to demand justice. I work on several levels to describe, contextualize and explore this kind of image, which I call the photographic Pietà. To do so, I build perceptual qualities onto social science observations by Paul Sant Cassia, where he discusses photographic modes and strategies in the context of Cypriot intercommunal strife and the war of 1974. I discuss the work of Alvin Lucier in parallel with photography in order to expose and reinforce ways that repetition modifies a prototype, both perceptually and actually. This is in addition to, but importantly different from the kind of perceptual and theoretical modifications to a prototype that take place during mass printing.

The scope of the study broadens into an examination of how modification through repetition adds meaning to the discourse between disempowered parts of society and the mainstream, and how it seems to assist the cause of missing persons in general.

"The Photographic Pietà: A Model of Gender, Protest and Spatial-Temporal Dislocation in Modern Cyprus" is a chapter by Elizabeth Hoak-Doering in
Photography and Cyprus: Time, Place and Identity
Liz Wells, Theopisti Stylianou-Lambert and Nicos Philippou editors.
I.B.Tauris 2014

A comprehensive revision came out in 2016 as A Photo in A Photo: The Optics, Politics and Powers of Hand-held Portraits in Claims for Justice and Solidarity Elizabeth Hoak-Doering,
The Cyprus Review vol.27 no.2, pp.15-42 (2016).

"The Acoustics of Still Photography" was the first presentation of this work: a talk at The First International Conference of Photography and Theory, Cyprus University of Technology Limassol Cyprus (November 2010).