“It started off as a crazy notion that occurred to me at the beginning of what we now call ‘The Great Recession.’ It became apparent that there are very few problems a country can solve in isolation anymore—that countries have to start working together in a new and unprecedented way—almost forming something like a global administration. Imagine if there were, who would be at the table of power?
“We’re presented with our world leaders under a shroud of branding, marketing and propaganda. So I thought, under these strained times, we should see our leaders as human beings, up close and personal. And then we should take all these individual character studies and bring them together to show a group dynamic. What happens as a communal spirit when they’re all put together?”
This idea prompted world-renowned photographer Platon to set up a small, makeshift studio at the United Nations in an effort to photograph as many world leaders as possible.
The result was the 2011 book Power, which features portraits of more than 100 of the world’s most powerful leaders. Platon has also published China: Through the Looking Glass, in collaboration with The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Service, dedicated to the men and women in the United States Military.
A communicator and storyteller, Platon has served as the keynote speaker for a number of events, including the recent World Economic Forum. In addition, he has appeared on television programs including Charlie Rose (PBS), Morning Joe (MSNBC), Fareed Zakaria’s GPS (CNN) and the BBC World News.
Platon’s work has been exhibited in galleries and museums both domestically and abroad. His Civil Rights photographs are part of The New York Historical Society’s permanent collection. Other permanent collections are featured at The Florida Museum of Photographic Arts in Tampa, The Westlicht Museum for Photography in Vienna, Austria, and the Scotland National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh.
In 2013, Platon founded a non-profit foundation named The People’s Portfolio. The foundation aspires to create a visual language that breaks barriers, expands dignity, fights discrimination, and enlists the public to support human rights around the world.
He serves as the Creative Director at Large for the Center for Civil and Human Rights, on the board for Arts and Culture at the World Economic Forum, and as a steward for the Economic Growth and Social Inclusion Initiative.
Platon will be featured as one of eight artists in “Abstract: The Art of Design,” documentary series from Netflix that premiered last week.