Political Theatre

Over the past two years Mark Peterson has photographed American presidential candidates as they lead rallies, meet with voters and plead for votes. He started shortly before the government shutdown in 2013 at a Tea Party rally at the US Capitol, when politicians were railing against President Obama and the Affordable Care Act—a show to get a sound bite into the next news cycle.

Since then Peterson has followed the political spin as it approaches the November 2016 election. Donald Trump’s entrance into the race—taking control of TV talking heads and making the media his press agent—is true political theatre. In a similar gesture, Bernie Sanders raised an arm in a power salute to waiting photographers after giving a speech in New Hampshire.

Peterson pulls back the curtain on such performances to show these politicians as they really are. Although they are in plain sight, they hide behind words and carefully arranged imagery to project their vision of America. Peterson cuts through such staging and reveals the cold, naked ambition for power.

Published as a monograph by Steidl Verlag in 2016.

The Tea Party Patriot 5th anniversay conference.
The Tea Party Patriots 5th anniversary conference. Senator Mike Lee
The CPAC convention in National Harbor Maryland Feb 2015. a repo
Sen. Rand Paul won the Conservative Political Action Conference straw poll for the third year in a row on Saturday, with 25.7% of the vote, event organizers announced Saturday at the National Harbor, Maryland, Confab.But the biggest winner of the straw poll was perhaps Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who catapulted from fifth last year to second place this year and came in just four points behind Paul, with 21.4% support. He delivered one of the conference's best-received speeches, laying out his vision for the economy and drawing enthusiastic applause that overshadowed a tone-deaf answer he gave on foreign policy.The closely watched survey of conference attendees represents a small but vocal faction of the Republican party, and the voters tend to be younger and libertarian leaning as many college students attend the gathering. Paul won in 2014 and 2013, and his father, a libertarian icon and former Texas congressman Ron Paul won in 2010 and 2011. 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney won that year.
sen hillary clinton at the nyc labor day parade in nyc 9/9/06
sen hillary clinton at the nyc labor day parade in nyc 9/9/06
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Senator Ted Cruz speaks at the Family Foundation Gala. Also Virginia gov candidate Ken Cuccinellii speaks to the group. Planned Parenthood demonstrated against the group and the candidates.
The Tea Party Patriot 5th anniversay conference.
The Tea Party Patriots 5th anniversary conference. Congress women Michele Backmann at the conference.
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The Conservative Political Action Conference in National Habor, MD. Day 2. Rand Paul address the conference
million vet protest at the WW2 memorial
Million Vet protest at the WW2 memorial
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By Kate Mishkin The Virginian-Pilot © July 4, 2015VIRGINIA BEACHPouring rain, police sanctions and holiday traffic didn't stop the nearly 150 people who gathered in the Convention Center parking lot Friday night with their Confederate battle flags.One by one, large pickups steered into the lot, horns honking and flags waving out the windows. People wearing Confederate T-shirts jumped out and gathered in groups. More trucks poured in, sometimes five or six at a time.Some sat in truck beds playing acoustic guitars. Many chatted about their plans for the night. A girl tugged on her mom's T-shirt."Mommy, look at that one!" she said, pointing at a flag hanging out a window.Many who attended Friday's gathering said celebrating the flag meant celebrating history and heritage, not racism."The hate's coming from not knowing the history of the flag," Stephanie Mizelle said. She said that even when people respond negatively, she acts graciously."We're not fighting back," she said."I have black friends who run the flag. We're just flying the flag to show where we come from," said Robert Barber, who's from Georgia. He said many people who showed up heard about the event through Facebook and word of mouth. The same group held a similar gathering earlier in the week and plans to drive along the Oceanfront in August. On Friday, police told them to stick to a route around Interstate 264."It's about our families and heritage, all of us. They lost people; we lost people. We lost family. It was all hard times," said Tina Lee. It's not about race, she said.
The Tea Party Patriot 5th anniversay conference.
The Tea Party Patriots 5th anniversary conference. Senator Ted Cruz
The CPAC convention in National Harbor Maryland Feb 2015. WISC G
Sen. Rand Paul won the Conservative Political Action Conference straw poll for the third year in a row on Saturday, with 25.7% of the vote, event organizers announced Saturday at the National Harbor, Maryland, Confab.But the biggest winner of the straw poll was perhaps Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who catapulted from fifth last year to second place this year and came in just four points behind Paul, with 21.4% support. He delivered one of the conference's best-received speeches, laying out his vision for the economy and drawing enthusiastic applause that overshadowed a tone-deaf answer he gave on foreign policy.The closely watched survey of conference attendees represents a small but vocal faction of the Republican party, and the voters tend to be younger and libertarian leaning as many college students attend the gathering. Paul won in 2014 and 2013, and his father, a libertarian icon and former Texas congressman Ron Paul won in 2010 and 2011. 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney won that year.
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over 40 conservative groups and organizations to rally in front of the White House to demand President Obama’s resignation and “reclaim America.” Larry Klayman, founder of Judicial Watch and Freedom Watch, has organized the “Reclaim America Now Coalition,” which seeks to “call out the administration for its unprecedented failure to represent We the People, to shine light upon what Barack Obama calls ‘phony scandals,’ and to allow people with legitimate grievances to finally be heard,”
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a tea party in morristown nj 7-4-09. anti -obama, anti goverment, anti tax, anti health care plan
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The National Rifle Association annual convention in Indianapolis Indiana. the exhibit hall was over nine acres of guns and products for guns and over 60,000 people attended the convention.
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Come and Take It Rally at the Alamo. Several hundred gun rights activists armed with rifles and shotguns rallied Saturday outside of the Alamo in a demonstration that broke a longstanding tradition of not staging such events at the enduring symbol of Texas independence. The "Come and Take It San Antonio!" rally was intended to draw attention to a right Texans already have — to carry long arms publicly so long as they don't do it in a menacing manner.
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The National Rifle Association annual convention in Indianapolis Indiana. the exhibit hall was over nine acres of guns and products for guns and over 60,000 people attended the convention. 4 year old violet ogle with a assault rifle on the in the exhibitors hall that her parents wanted to take a picture with her holding
Pro-Life activist taking part in the 41 annual March For Life
Pro-Life activist taking part in the 41 annual March For Life
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New Jersey gov. Chris Christie holds a town hall meeting in Belmar, NJ. Gov Christie is fighting for his political future because of the Bridgegate scandal.
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over 40 conservative groups and organizations to rally in front of the White House to demand President Obama’s resignation and “reclaim America.” Larry Klayman, founder of Judicial Watch and Freedom Watch, has organized the “Reclaim America Now Coalition,” which seeks to “call out the administration for its unprecedented failure to represent We the People, to shine light upon what Barack Obama calls ‘phony scandals,’ and to allow people with legitimate grievances to finally be heard,”
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The Conservative Political Action Conference in National Habor, MD. Day 2. Rand Paul cutout in the HUB
hillary clinto signing her book hard choices
former first lady and former secratary of state hillary clinton signs copies of her book Hard Choices in east hampton ny 8/16/14
rally in support of NYPD at Queens Bourgh hall in queens 1/13/15
A retired NYPD captain is organizing a series of six “Support Your Local Police” rallies over the next two months, starting with one at noon Tuesday at Queens Borough Hall and continuing in all five boroughs.“These cops live in a bubble,” Joseph Concannon told The Post. “Right now they think everybody in the city hates them. I think it’s important to help the officers build their morale so they understand it’s a very narrow minority of people in the city who do not agree with what they’re doing.”
rally in support of NYPD at Queens Bourgh hall in queens 1/13/15
A retired NYPD captain is organizing a series of six “Support Your Local Police” rallies over the next two months, starting with one at noon Tuesday at Queens Borough Hall and continuing in all five boroughs.“These cops live in a bubble,” Joseph Concannon told The Post. “Right now they think everybody in the city hates them. I think it’s important to help the officers build their morale so they understand it’s a very narrow minority of people in the city who do not agree with what they’re doing.”
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The National Rifle Association annual convention in Indianapolis Indiana. the exhibit hall was over nine acres of guns and products for guns and over 60,000 people attended the convention. the leadership forum of the NRA convention.
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The National Rifle Association annual convention in Indianapolis Indiana. the exhibit hall was over nine acres of guns and products for guns and over 60,000 people attended the convention. NRA stand and fight rally with sarah palin
pledge allegiance sign by newark airport in newark nj 7-14-09
pledge allegiance sign by newark airport in newark nj 7-14-09