Today we wanted to share work that is relevant to the political climate that many of us stayed up all night watching. We at Aint-Bad are not ashamed to say we are deeply disappointed by the results of the election. As purveyors of photography that inspires and informs, every feature we’ve done can be rooted back to one simple theme: humanity. We will continue with this theme in hopes that you, the American people, and those elsewhere, are not disheartened by the election of someone who has outwardly expressed their disregard for very basic human rights. Today we spoke with Taylor Dorrell about his experience photographing the political turf in Ohio, a key state in the results of the election. Taylor Dorrell uses photography as a medium to document the climate of different aspects of American life. A senior at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, Taylor’s interest in politics and social issues emerges as a theme throughout his series.
Regardless of what happens in the next four years, this election will go down in history. Inspired by Bernie Sanders’ sincerity in the primaries, I took an interest in the election. This being the first presidential election I’d be old enough to vote in, I attended rallies, protests, and events around Ohio to experience what the US democratic process is like.
The level of protection, guns, fences, police, that you photographed at the RNC is much more serious than what is captured at the Democratic events. Was this a consistent theme?
Most events and rallies held by the right are met with protests. From my experience with protests and political events, the right tends to stick to social media when protesting the left. The only place I’ve seen the silent majority protesting is outside of Planned Parenthood locations. There were a lot of protests at the RNC and the reason it was different than others was because of the presence of gun owners expressing their second amendment right to bear arms.
Did you ever feel unwelcome or threatened at these events?
I went to Trump’s rally with my roommate Jon and my friend Alex. Jon’s parents immigrated here from Mexico and my friend Alex is a Black Lives Matter activist. As we were walking up to the rally/protest area I was singled out by a kind Trump supporter who shook my hand and told us to be respectful while protesting. That was interesting because he had to assume that we were protestors based on our appearance and then decided to only talk to me. Walking past the line for the rally on the way there and on the way back, there were a few things said making fun of our appearance, but the unreal part was the aggressive response to the protest. While the protestors are chanting “love not hate”, the Trump supporters responded with “build a wall” and some came over to the protesters and tore signs.
Were there clear differences in the temperament of supporters at the candidate’s rallies?
I attended a Trump rally and a Bernie rally on the same day and differences were frightening. Although there are plenty of Trump supporters who aren’t explicitly white supremacists, the overall atmosphere is hostile. I’m biased, but Bernie’s rally was made up of a very diverse group and the atmosphere was overtly peaceful and hippy-like.
A lot of your images include recognizable figures, but they seem to be less important than the crowds that surround them. Was this a project focused more on the supporters or the candidates?
Democracy is funny. As citizens we rely on these individuals as a driving force to improve our daily lives through governing. The individuals running for office understand that they need voters and the voters want to choose the right candidate. That relationship between the citizens and the candidates emerges as a theme in the images seeing as all of the subjects in the images are citizens that can vote, including the militarized police.
As a first time voter, how do you feel now that everything is decided?
I was disappointed in the election from very early on. I was rooting for Bernie and wasn’t happy with the DNC. Since the election didn’t go my way, or the way of roughly 65,674,709 Americans (the number of people who didn’t vote for Trump), it begs the question of what to do now. Personally it makes me want to take steps towards abolishing the electoral college, but I think the fact the Donald won shows that we need to reassess the two party system and maybe the entire system in general. Generally it shows that everyone needs to be more involved and not just vote. As an artist, it makes me wonder if photography is an effective medium to contribute to the future of the country. Since issues like climate change will be ignored by our government for the next four years, I want to do my part in contributing to solutions and I’m hoping that I can address these issues that will continue to go unaddressed through photography.
To view more of Taylor’s work, please view his previous feature here, or visit his website.