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January 22, 2011

Giffords on the Move

I’m intrigued by  this photo — the composition and its function as a political note — as the media, by way of the Giffords office, documents her transport from a hospital in Tucson to a world class rehab facility in Houston.

The scene is quite sensual, Commander Kelly in this loving gaze illuminated by the sun and married to the beauty of the vista and the striking clarity of the day from the hospital rooftop.These elements are only the chorus, however, to what is most tantalizing, which is the simultaneous presence and absence of Gabby herself, her virtuality actually pulling us into bed with her, receiving that gaze with her and sharing that view with and for her as we are impelled to identify and imaginine what/who we can’t see. And that’s just going on inside the photo.

From a political and media standpoint, there is the fact that this handout from Ms. Gifford’s office is an element of PR as much a moment of intimacy. But, lest you consider this observation a bubble-bursting one, we must also consider how much Giffords — reflected by the intense concern with her shooting and, this week, the motorcade for her ambulance, the public lining the streets; the police escort; the transport (1, 2) via Air Force base  – has become a national icon larger than herself.

(photo: U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ office/Handout via Reuters. caption: NASA Shuttle Commander Mark Kelly, the husband of U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), is pictured sitting at his wife’s bedside outside the University Medical Center Tucson, Arizona, in this photograph taken and released on January 20, 2011. On her last full day at UMC, Gifford was taken on a brief stroll in a wheelchair to the hospital’s helipad for some sunshine and fresh air to lift her spirits, accompanied by physical therapists and her husband, spokeswoman Jo Marie Gellerman said on Thursday.)

  • Sam

    Anyone who has been in hospital so long would be very grateful for this moment of sun and fresh air. I’m afraid that her status as an icon and her excellent health insurance coverage will make the next hospital battle to keep her from going home.

    • NonnyMus

      Sam, your comment reflects your total ignorance of how a rehab facility works and what insurance companies will and will not cover and for how long.

  • PhoenixRising

    I’ll admit that my first thought on seeing this image was, Can’t wait for BAG’s take on it.

    The specificity of the background serves the political function of centering the Santa Catalina skyline, a view that is uniquely Tucson. As a former local, this told me that her office wants me to think she’s coming home again soon. There were many potential photos to say ‘She’s here and she’s loved’, but only this angle says ‘Local girl will return to our town’.

    Tucson has 1.5 million people in it now, but it’s still the pueblo town at heart.

  • black dog barking

    From a practical perspective someone gunshot to the head may not be photogenic enough for mass media distribution for a while. This shot lets us know she is moving about, aware and recovering, let’s us see her through the filter of her husband’s eyes.

  • Aurora

    I love how he loves her.

    Which is totally a projection, of course; but my oh my, what woman of a certain age wouldn’t take a short, balding, smart grown-up guy like that in a heart-beat.

    • momly

      Amen and amen!

    • Julia Grey

      Yes, he’s ADORABLE.

  • NonnyMus

    I agree with Black Dog Barking that a gunshot victim is not at all photogenic. I would favor to see photos of gun violence victims published, but I suspect that most Americans won’t be able to handle it.

    Too bad, really, since making the victims of gun violence invisible makes it easier for people to believe it’s not that big a problem.

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