“The flash is like crack to them. They really don’t care if a picture is flattering or not.” So observes veteran photojournalist Mark Peterson of the 2016 presidential hopefuls whom he has been following throughout the current campaign. An exhibition of his coverage so far just opened this week in the Second Floor Gallery at Hudson Beach Glass in Beacon: home of Fovea Exhibitions, renowned for its specialization in social and political documentary photography. Peterson will be on hand for an artist talk and presentation this Saturday, February 13 from 6:30 to 9 p.m.
Disheartened by an assignment to cover carefully stage-managed Tea Party rallies against the Affordable Care Act in 2013, Peterson decided to undertake a more warts-and-all approach to the next presidential race, peeling back the veneer of official photo ops to expose the candid underbelly of the campaign trail. Peterson employs unusual angles to chronicle imperfect moments, weaving body language and unscripted moments to present a strong editorial perspective: a stark contrast to the intention of the politicians’ controlled environment. Highlighting the artifice of the political persona, he runs the photographs taken with his DSLR through his iPhone and then several iPhone apps, adding filters to emphasize the cartoonish drama.
By now we’ve doubtless all seen plenty of examples of Peterson’s work, uncredited, in the form of uncharitable Internet memes mocking one Oval Office aspirant or another. The Fovea show, titled “Political Theatre: Photographs by Mark Peterson,” takes a deeper dive into the photographer’s sardonic point of view via 20 high-contrast black-and-white images, described by the presenters as “provocative” and “Orwellian.”
The exhibition is on view daily through March 6 in the Second Floor Gallery, located at 162 Main Street in Beacon. For more info visit www.foveaexhibitions.org.