This series once came up as the final stage of "Life on Mars"

Read the narrative/ Lire l'histoire




inauguration obama
This series came as the presummed final element of my work "Life on Mars" which is dedicated to that era of American politics and the surreal side of American life that I witnessed under President Clinton, and degenerated into the unbearable and untenable under George W. Bush. In that era the Cold War became a fading memory and American hegemony turned supremacism. 9-11 was one of the consequences, and in its aftermath, Americans as a whole started to resemble Martians to the rest of us. Mars being after all not only the planet of likely invaders but also the God of war. Barack Obama was elected among other reasons in order to put a term to that nonsense and restore America's values and position in the world. This is where this series' title comes from. Its exact wording needs to be credited to my good friend Peter Armenia

On January 20th, 2009, I wanted to capture, alive, the perspective of the average folks which came like pilgrims to the National Mall to celebrate an historical victory over reactionary forces and honor a man that had beaten the strongest odds. None of us had tickets to be among the dignitaries, what you see is the plebeian angle of this inauguration, a Louis Ferdinand Céline type of rendition.

This was an extremely tough assignment, as little could be known of how the actual day would be played, what route would need to be taken to access the Mall, what restrictions there would be, not to mention the sheer size of the human migration that trumped anything that had ever taken place. Additionally, the type of work I do, which is destined to be enlarged substantially while keeping with fine art standards normally not associated with photojournalism, meant that I was going to carry around a substantial load in cameras and optics. In the end all worked fine, I was able to be in what I thought was an ideal spot, not too close, in order to have a more than sizable crowd ahead of me, not too far either, and able to photograph toward the Washington monument with also a substantial mass of people in between. The density of the crowd made it quasi impossible to move much. Working mostly in medium format in order to deliver the best possible resolution, I was also able to raise my camera while still monitoring the framing. The Hasselblad legacy lenses I use deliver a crystal like contrast that is just unequaled and perfectly suiting for this once-in-a-lifetime event.

As everybody I know who went to the inauguration, I was struck by its uplifting character. This was by far the biggest mass I ever went to, and probably that ever took place in the western world. It was frigid, especially standing for 3 hours in around zero celsius degree temperature, with most of your body in the shade because immersed in the crowd. Everybody though was on her/his best behavior, even myself. I was impressed to see how 2 million people can stay quiet and listen, and then be joyful and kind. It might indeed have been the second coming.

The images that you can see are so far just doctored proofing scans. "Doctored" means that for the sake of relative timeliness, I extracted from proofing scans more than they normally can deliver.

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