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Political landscapes - USA

This serie belongs to a work that I undertook for several years on the different symbolic places of the political life ( TV sets, headquarters of political parties, meeting halls). I highlight two things : firstly I photograph major places of current political life from a historical and documentary point of view, secondly I examine in a critical way the places where mediatised images are generated.

Before this a work on the 2007 Fench presidential campaign was delivered in France by the Agence VU' and published weekly by the French newspaper ''Le Monde'' for seven weeks before the first round of the presidential election. I decided then to work in patnership with the Picturetank cooperative on one of the most important political event of this beginning of this century : the 2008 American presidential campaign. In this serie that recounts the last three months of the American presidential campaign, I focus on the singular places where each candidate and his campaigners meet. These photographies reveal shows and tricks, and try to figure out the way images are used in the current political life. On one hand, political campaign teams control as thorough as possible the whole image chain production ; on the other hand, the candidates master with millimeter accuracy their gestures, attitudes and gazes. Finally campaigners, spectators and viewers are not totally fooled by the fictional products they view, but try to believe it anyway.

I aim for depicting different processes implemented by this outstanding campaign. Huge rallies gather tens of thousands of spectators in which everything is controlled. Campaign teams select specific places and grant it each media ( TV, radio, photopraphers, newspapers) according to the way they are expacted to cover the rally. Television is at the heart of the 'arena', photographers stand up in front of campaigners flags whereas radios sit alongside the most noisy campaigners groups.

On the contrary minimal rallies tend to developp into a so called 'post-thatrical' approach. Deep in forests or in airport hangar, they gather a few dozen carefully selected campaigners and as many journalists, sometimes more, in charge of showing them. This new kind of rally tries to make believe that there is a closeness between the candidate and the common citizen who's considered the main target of any political communication. What reveal the TV or photographic images taken from this kind of event is a candidate who stands up in the most natural way in the middle of a group of common citizens. However, the images eclipse all the elements that in fact generate an artificial reality : The security services block the road, what leads to kilometers of trafic jam ; snippers keep watch on the roof tops ; dozen of TV trucks wait in the middle of nowhere, their antenas pointing up at the sky ; each player (candidates, journalists and campaigners) has to stay into places carefully marked out. As a result, these forest places are supposed to be perfectly genuine, but betray in fact, better than the great political shows or anythig else, the communicational issues of political life and the fictional aspects of such a controlled presidential campaign.

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