Archives About Staff BagNews is dedicated to visual politics, media literacy and the analysis of news images.
January 12, 2009

Your Turn: Barack And Michelle ‘96, Hyde Park

M-Cook-Obama.jpg

I was interested in your take on this portrait by Mariana Cook, taken in May 1996, as part of a project photographing couples as well as interviewing them about their relationship. Here is the article at The New Yorker consisting of Michelle’s statement, and then Barack’s.

(image: Mariana Cook. Hyde Park. May 26, 1996.  website.)

  • http://www.fightingliberals.com the littlest gator

    This photo really captures both their comments. He looks more open, adventurous, out there. She looks both powerful and shy.
    interesting

  • http://keepittrill.blogspot.com/ Kit (Keep It Trill)

    Love that photo. Looks like that of so many of my fam and friends.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/[email protected]/ DennisQ

    The little statue on the table looks like it came from Africa. I don’t know about the pictures – they’re definitely exotic, but the first one looks like Siamese dancers. The second one looks like a stylized subway map. I don’t know about the third one – it might be a Google photograph of a residential neighborhood.
    Michelle looks intensely possessive of Barack. Barack seems more passive than Michelle, but he also has his hand on her hip. Together they have not quite a you and me against the world look, but an insistence that they are going to get everything that’s coming to them. Michelle’s sensible shoes and the frumpish couch are at odds with the artsiness of the setting. Is this their home? The exotic furnishings suggest a strained effort to incorporate Afrocentrism.

  • cherish

    The pictures behind them are Thai temple rubbings — just like mine. I’m sure that’s photo light reflection obscuring the middle and right pictures.

  • http://justbetweenstrangers.blogspot.com/ acm

    I don’t know about “strained effort to incorporate Afrocentrism” — looks pretty much like a typical Hyde Park academic’s pad: intellectual shabby chic. maybe they got the pictures on a trip, but maybe they were on sale in a nearby world-beat-type store. feels like a 90s version of the de-rigour batik wall-hangings (or Japanese brush paintings) of the 80s version… probably an adjacent wall was full of overflowing bookcases, heh.

  • Johanna

    His widespread open arms indicate comfort with himself, and even a certain arrogance. He looks very much about himself and his attractiveness. She is obviously much more wrapped up in him than the reverse. There is no proof that the adjacent wall had overflowing bookcases. Let’s not imagine things here. How different Michelle’s hair was then. Perhaps more of an authentically African look than now. She has taken on a great deal of glamor in the intervening years, whereas some of the physical attractiveness of his youth is gone.

  • yg

    my favorite couples pic:

  • http://theforgottenwar.blogspot.com Sergei Andropov

    One thing that really stands out to me is the carpet, especially its jagged angularity. Someone more familiar with the ins and outs of photographic composition would be the one to explain why it stands out, though.

  • dcreba

    This photo was in the New Yorker magazine and the write-up was so in sync with the picture. He and Michele have an obvious loving relationship and are bonded to each other. I don’t see arrogance…I see openness with him and vulnerability with her. They are Yin and Yang. I love the picture.

  • yg

    what happened to the photo i posted?

  • asdadf

    I love the voodoo idol on the left….. it’s used to practice Santeria religion of the Bahamas, which I heard her mother now does in the White House.
    Imagine? Voodoo in the WHITE HOUSE!!!!!!!!!! LOL.

Refresh Archives

Random Notes