“Jan Banning: Bureaucratics”

Dutch photographer Jan Banning’s “Bureaucratics” is part documentary, part sociology study. Banning photographed civil servants in eight countries over a five-year period for the series. Beginning in 2003, Banning, accompanied by writer Will Tinnemans, arrived unannounced at a series of public government offices. Tinnemans immediately began to interview the workers while Banning photographed them. The workers were not allowed to rearrange anything, so Banning captured them in their “natural environment.” The photos are all shot from the same perspective; Banning positioned himself at the entry to the office.

Among the often seen items in the photos are flags, calendars and photographs of family. Plants and stuffed animals are also frequently seen. Less frequent, but nonetheless present, are portraits of a country’s leading political figures, uniforms, guns and other representations of rank and authority. One Texas sheriff’s office had a framed photograph of actor — and ultimate he‑man — John Wayne. Another photo shows a worker sitting in the middle of towering stacks of disorganized papers and files.

10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 12:15 to 7 p.m. Sundays. Through March 23. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet. For information, call 713‑639‑7300 or visit mfah.org. Entry to the exhibit is included with paid museum admission (free to $13).
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thursdays, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Fridays, Saturdays, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sundays, 12:15-7 p.m. Starts: Dec. 18. Continues through March 23, 2013

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Olivia Flores Alvarez