Fairytale Prisoner by Choice: The Photographic Eye of Melania Trump – Art as Research

This is a great use of photography as research. Of particular interest is the power of the snapshot, the image we take without thinking, rather than the ‘artistic’ image we make through a deliberate act with a clear aesthetic, political or personal intention. Posting, showing or sharing a snapshot, however, is deliberate and gives us insight into the photographer as much as the thing being photographed.

As art as research, the meaning ascribed is personal, situational, emergent and subjective. Through sharing, being published on Medium, it is exposed to scrutiny, not like quantitative research, for peer review, but that readers may gain insight into one person’s opinion and expression. The conclusion is also artistic. It uses symbolic or archetypal imagery to present a heuristic perspective. It lacks detail but presents its findings in a way we can universally relate to, in a personal, subjective way.

Kate Imbach put this up on Medium on Apr 16, 2017


Why won’t the first lady show up for her job? Why? I became obsessed with this question and eventually looked to Melania’s Twitter history for answers. I noticed that in the three-year period between June 3, 2012 and June 11, 2015 she tweeted 470 photos which she appeared to have taken herself. I examined these photographs as though they were a body of work.

Everyone has an eye, whether or not we see ourselves as photographers. What we choose to photograph and how we frame subjects always reveals a little about how we perceive the world. For someone like Melania, media-trained, controlled and cloistered, her collection of Twitter photography provides an otherwise unavailable view into the reality of her existence. Nowhere else — certainly not in interviews or public appearances — is her guard so far down.

What is that reality? She is Rapunzel with no prince and no hair, locked in a tower of her own volition, and delighted with the predictability and repetition of her own captivity.

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