I began working on this image a couple of weeks before the recent 2016 presidential election. Like many other people, I’d become weary of the drivel that had dragged most election related conversations into the gutter. What I had anticipated to be a no-holds-barred dogfight had turned into a nightmare reality. Substance no longer mattered. It was all about mud and seeing what would stick.
What was even more disturbing were the parallels with the rise of Nazi Germany. It didn’t help that I had just spent a week in Dusseldorf. I had attended glasstec along with thousands of other trade show enthusiasts. The week leading up to the show had been filled with festivities in the center of town, culminating in cycle races through the city’s streets on Sunday afternoon. The harsh sound of German shouted through loudspeakers combined with roaring crowds of Aryan onlookers gave me flashbacks of scratched black and white scenes of Hitler addressing a sea of mesmerized faces. As I wandered through pristine neighborhoods, the orderly parade of shiny Audi’s and Beamers along with the periodic flash and growl of a top model Porsche made me quite certain that beneath the veneer of serenity was a very aggressive and capable economy and culture.
Back at the hotel, news of the American elections with scenes of Trump egging on a crowd juiced with the power of us against them hovered above the bar beside panning shots of the chanting soccer audience on another TV and channel. I had this weird sense that humanity was spinning out of control. It was like any minute, rioting would become a sport.
While still under this influence, I sorted through photos I’d taken at the holocaust memorial below the Legion of Honor in San Francisco a couple years earlier. The encrusted bodies frozen in despair said what I felt. I began constructing their message and filling in their world. The more I looked at the monitor, the more intently I felt as if I was one of them.