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October 11, 2010

Campaign ‘10: Calling Diane Arbus

What photographer Peter Van Agtmael does in this one photo, and I can’t thank him enough for it, is to dare expose this mid-term election for the freak show it is.

With the lack of political or psychological competency of so many “candidates”; the unfettered and completely stealth campaign spending; the degree of hate-mongering, hysteria and delusional lying, what’s most astounding is how much this Cukoo’s Nest, this meth lab of a political process continues to be twisted and contorted so that it might somehow still be seen in rational terms.

So, thank you, Peter, for this shot from Iowa’s GOP Ronald Reagan dinner, headlined by Sarah Palin, that you shot for TIME. I can only imagine what is going on here, with the monster Pelosi, the Jerry Lewis-type guy as her front man (or stalking horse) competing for the thought bubble, and best of all, the Cliff Clavin-looking guy behind the scenes, looking oh, so innocent, and jovial as the hate and the insanity starts to rise.

I’m sure I’m only paying you more credit, Peter, in the conviction that, truly fitting the infested Campaign ‘10, you’ve channeled Diane Arbus.

Peter’s full campaign slide show here.

  • Wayne Dickson

    Wow! I thought this was a photo-montage. Great photo.

    Not sure about the Diane Arbus thing, though. I’ve always found it hard to read the photographer’s feelings in her images. I said “feelings” as a way of dodging, I guess. Like the kid preparing for a pro-war parade, wearing the “straw” hat and the “Bomb Hanoi” button. Is she mocking him? or feeling sorry for him in ways he himself could never understand?

    But aren’t most of her subjects fully aware that’s she’s photographing them for a presentation that says, “This is not a candid shot. This is an attempt to catch something essential about these subjects, and present it formally.”

    (I love the scarlet face of the guy who’s screaming!)

    • Michael Shaw

      Good points all, Wayne. Maybe the candid silent scream is coming from inside of me.

  • black dog barking

    I can’t tell exactly what those two guys are doing with that giant Pelosi but I’m pretty sure it’s against the law here in Nebraska. It looks to be consensual, so party on dudes!

  • g

    The Jerry Lewis man looks like a cutout too.

    • ivyleaves

      I agree, and if it is so, in a way this IS a photo montage.

  • Boxcar

    All i can say, with the door to wackiness wide open, is to quote Hunter Thompson:

    “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”

    And brother it IS weird, and we are seeing the weirdo’s going pro!

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