Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
March 8, 2016

Trump as Orifice: Peterson, Gowdy Get to the Essence

Donald Trump at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md., in February 2015. (Mark Peterson/Redux)

Mark Peterson’s photos this election cycle cut to the bone. His style might not be the perfect fit for a guarded and cerebral Hillary, but it fits the primitive Trump to a “T.”

Trump being rancid on purpose, Peterson does more than reduce the blasphemous one to a mouth. In this quintessential Campaign ’16 photograph, he frames him as an orifice. Metaphors be damned, Doctor Peterson graphically exposes us to a diseased organ — in essence, that of the broken political system that birthed him.

(If it’s not too deep a dive already, here’s the photo-illustrated version on the cover of Washington Post Magazine.)

@markpetersonpixs on Instagram: Politics in Black and White.... Tonight Donald Trump said there is no problem with the size of his.... @reduxpictures #Trump #penis

Taking the measure of this lowly GOP contest, this simply strips down the exercise to its own visual terms. After the debate in Houston and (Little) Rubio’s descent to Trump’s level, all that remains is a primal manhood contest. But Peterson’s brilliant photo already says that.

Nate Gowdy/Instagram. Multiple exposure of Donald Trump at a town hall in Burlington, VT, on Jan. 7th, 2016.

And while we’re getting physical, let’s add Nate Gowdy’s multiple exposure to the mix. Not to be confused with any Hindu God (though, wasn’t Shiva bent on destroying the world to restore it?), Gowdy applies his own technique to scope The Donald. If it’s a little heavy-handed, what he attempts to frame is what happens once he’s switched on: the chaos, the mania, the incitement, the barrage, the filibuster, the rash of incomplete thoughts, the jerkiness (in both senses of the word), the Willy Loman on meth with the constant I’m telling you‘s, and all the take my words for it— you know, the whole medicine show.

As photographers start to boil Trump down (and not just indy ones, or well-published ones taking to their own social media), I hope the electorate does the same exam.

(photo 1: Mark Peterson/Redux. caption: Donald Trump at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md., in February 2015. photo 2: @markpetersonpixs on Instagram: caption: Politics in Black and White…. Tonight Donald Trump said there is no problem with the size of his…. @reduxpictures #Trump #penis. photo 3: Nate Gowdy/Instagram. caption: Multiple exposure of Donald Trump at a town hall in Burlington, VT, on Jan. 7th, 2016.)

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