Photography and Text by Casey Egner, Copyright 2016
TWO CROWDS, TWO AMERICAS
This series exists as a before and after representation of the 2016 presidential election. On the night before the election, Hillary Clinton held a rally at Independence Mall in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. The Rally opened with performances by Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen, highlighting the night was President Barrack Obama, the first lady Michelle Obama, Bill and Chelsea Clinton, and finally Hillary herself. There was an energy of hope in the crowd, a line that went almost four miles out from the from the entrance with people filling the streets in anticipation. After what has been a grueling election year due to the anxiety caused by Hillary’s opponent Donald Trump, the general feeling was of excitement to see this finished. Although the crowd was not without its own protesters, the local hate preacher and his family stood by the entrance to independence hall describing everyone’s pathway to hell, a few “Hillary for prison” signs were about but people tended to ignore them, happy to see this election cycle over. This is what is described in the initial photo’s, a crowd of hope, fighting for social and economic justice. This is one America.
The remaining photo’s are post election, a crowd of anger and anxiety. These photo’s are from the protest on the streets of Philadelphia following the night of the election. The election of Donald Trump as president of the United States of America sparked immediate outrage, signs reading “Fuck Donald Trump” and “Not my President” were everywhere. This is the same America, one that is against hate, against bigotry, against fear mongering and corporate welfare, against racism, sexism, and xenophobia. These are the people fighting for social justice, protesting the election of a man who ran his campaign on hatred and the threat of violence. There is only one America depicted here, but in two forms, hope and devastation. The energy of the protest was anger, fear, shock and disgust. Even though we were out in the streets it all seemed surreal.
The second America, the one not pictured, is lost, deceived, duped by a conman. This is an America that felt cast aside, scared and unrepresented. This is an America that believed they were voting in their best interests but were tricked into doing the exact opposite. I refuse to believe that all who voted for Trump are bad people, that they are all racist, sexist and xenophobic. But they voted for a man who is, and this is where we find ourselves. We are now a country divided, there are those of us who will now live in fear, there are very real threats to a population of immigrants, people of specific faith or sexual orientation. These photo’s are of those who will choose to stand by their side, to stand with each other. These photo’s may in fact be the beginning of the new normal, of a life of fighting and protest, of defending one another’s right to exist in what began as a “free country” but has now been taken over by hate and bigotry. This is no new fight, it has been happening for century’s, it has only gotten harder. We now face a turning point, where those who were at this rally, at the protests all over the country, need to remember the hope they felt, remember the anger, and continue to fight for the lives and rights of their friends and family. Let us hope that all this does is mobilize a sleeping giant of social justice, that now against pure hatred we can be stronger, together.
About The Author: Casey Egner is a graduate student enrolled in the Master of Fine Arts, University of Pennsylvania. To read additional articles by Casey Egner, go here:http://tonywardstudio.com/blog/casey-egner-flanuer-photography/