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.)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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