Thursday 4th of May marks the opening, at LINKE, Milan, of Trump, a photo exhibition by Christopher Morris (California, 1958), curated by Alessia Glaviano, Senior Photo Editor for Vogue Italia and L’Uomo Vogue and Web Editor for Vogue.it
The exhibition presents a selection of photographs shot by Christopher Morris at Trump’s supporters during the last American presidential elections. The images are perfectly composed and markedly cinematographic in character, capable of going beyond the mere representation of reality to offer the viewer some sort of social and political commentary. The photographs appear to be dense in symbolism and meaning and, by suggesting several interpretative layers, they highlight the theatre of political rhetoric as well as the contradictions within and the fanaticism of certain voters.
Morris knows the American society in depth, having spent years studying and researching how his country and political class are represented, mostly through his profession as Time’s Magazine’s White House photographer from 2000 to 2009.
The exhibition will also feature an especially trenchant series of black and white portraits of Donald Trump in which the President’s facial expressions take on a caricatural, and at times disquieting, form. In addition, there will also be a selection of slow motion videos portraying the main presidential candidates.
Using a Phantom Miro camera, which had never been used previously to document political events and while filming at 720 frames per second, Morris has devised a new form of photojournalistic narrative. When the footage is played back at a speed of 24 frames per second, photographed events appeared slowed down to an otherworldly effect creating a kind of suspended animation.
Morris glorifies slowness, creating a visual experience in which every small detail gains significance.
One could watch his videos in loop for hours and continuously find fresh food for thought. The atmosphere is epic, solemn, almost religious; it is as though we were faced with an epiphany of political gestures: the camera reveals the essence of the poses and the measured body movements employed by the candidates in order to persuade their voters.
The alienating sound which is actually the candidates on voice slowed to the same frame rate as the film and the use of slow motion urge the viewer to take on a different perspective; they have a hypnotic effect that is akin to the work of Bill Viola.
As Alessia Glaviano pointed out: “If the videos were played at normal speed, it would simply be a report and portrayed events would be seen for what they are; by slowing them down, instead, the single movements are de-contextualised, they become disengaged from the overarching narrative (the election campaign, etc) and they are revealed for what they truly are in their inane nature. Each gesture takes on a theatrical quality, and just like in theatre, each movement becomes a hyper-signifier. The sound, like the slowed down pace, contributes to give the videos an epic dimension. They are hypnotic; you cannot stop watching them, this despite having no expectations of plot. No expectations over a beginning, a story unfolding or an end, and yet, you are totally absorbed by the dilated time of the representation; you see the gestures but don’t hear the speeches, this way the gestures gain more power but become less meaningful. It is not clear what they stand for, Trump’s pointed finger becomes Trump himself, the same applies to Hillary’s open hands”.
The opening of the exhibition sees the attendance of Christopher Morris himself and, over the following days, he will hold a workshop on the importance of creating an individual style: this marks a unique opportunity to meet one of the leading names in international photojournalism.
Christopher Morris, based in Paris, was born in California in 1958 and began his career as a documentary conflict photographer working almost exclusively for TIME Magazine, where he has been on contract since 1990. He has been credited with redefining political coverage in America during his years working at the White House for TIME Magazine from 2000 till 2009.
Simultaneously to his career as a photojournalist, Morris has expanded his work into the fashion world. He has received various awards, including the Robert Capa Gold Medal, the Olivier Rebbot Award, the Journalism Award from the Overseas Press Club, two Infinity Awards for photojournalism from the International Center of Photography in New York, the PDN Look Fashion Editorial Award and numerous World Press Photo awards. Morris is a founding member of the photojournalist agency VII based in New York.