Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
November 15, 2010

Foot of the Buddha

What makes the photos of Obama’s visit to the Great Buddha statue in Kamakura so arresting on the last day of his Asia trip is the dramatic contrast between the symbolism of the statue and the all-out post-midterm hell awaiting him back in D.C.  Two years after Obama road into office as an outsized symbol of contemplation himself, the photo is ironic on multiple levels. Whereas nothing is close to lining up for the President in Washington, the symmetry here not only feels thoroughly contrived, the photo also feminizing the President, miniaturizes him, and sets up a monumental contrast between the man and the aspirational quality of Zen.

(photo: Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images)

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