It is clear to me now that the visual attention surrounding Hillary Clinton goes far beyond simple media hype.
As a more than viable Presidential contender; as the former First Lady and Bill’s wife; and as a complex personality, politician and tactician, Hillary is a powerful magnet. Raising the possibility of America’s first female President, Hillary also evokes and brings close to the surface a range of gender issues, including the politics of career, motherhood, marriage, fidelity, strength, ambition, privacy, and more.
Add Clinton’s presence to the dynamics off a wide-open Presidential race, factor in the dramatic and highly recent sea change in American politics — with new Democratic control of the Congress, with a woman also taking charge of the U.S. House — and you’ve got a complete upheaval in the themes and the context behind the latest political pictures.
The emergence of new (or newly prominent) faces raises a lot of initial personality questions for The BAG and its readership. Call it the study of portraiture or the investigation of character, it’s hard to make sense of a political photo without a better understanding of the subjects in it. As a result, I think it’s particularly valuable — especially at the start of this election process — to take “biographical material,” particularly more reflective images offered us by the candidates themselves, as material to investigate who they are, especially in light of what they’d like us to see.
Regarding the shot above, there are several images in Hillary’s on-line Family Photo Album that are fascinating. I’ve been looking at this one (#14 of 15), off-and-on, for over a week now. If it’s indicative of anything, it speaks to Mrs. Clinton’s ability to project contrasting impressions of herself. I might run another one or two shots from this gallery, but this one interested me the most. The image is simply titled: “Bill and Hillary Clinton, 2001.”
(image: hillaryclinton.com multimedia)