Mr. President Trump, a man without a mask
I do not doubt that the most iconic photos of 2020 come out at the end of the year; there will also be this one of President Trump, who takes off his mask as if it were a gesture of defiance towards the world or yet another enemy to be defeated. Although invisible to the human eye. It will undoubtedly end up among the iconic photos. Perhaps not today, but certainly shortly, there will be and will remind us of this absurd period, which the whole planet is experiencing. No less important than this image are compelling psychological and communicative references.
“Why an iconic image?
Photographs, as well as images, are a language with their syntax and grammar. You have to learn to read them as you do with books. Photographic and otherwise. Photography because used a photographic medium to make the shot; it is not here to make differences and discuss the differences between digital and analog. An image because, regardless of everything, it has a strength in recalling compelling subliminal and visual messages on a communicative level. Let’s analyze the image and begin to see and think which identifies this image makes us resurface directly from our memory.”
When I see flags, especially American flags, the first author I think of is Robert Frank with his work The Americans. The flags in the background are an unmistakable iconic symbol of the most powerful nation in the world. The same eagles above the flag recall another powerful character. Considered the context took the photo. The Tramp’s gesture in taking off his mask, which among other things, we must read the motion of him both as president of a nation and in that of a man. Prevaricating and contemptuous of the health situation. Here we have a double weight and a sub-level of reading. How do we decide to interpret it? Only we can fix it.
The same background behind Trump and the flags help to contextualize this image. So why on earth should I consider it an iconic image? This photo is one of those images that, in this case, beyond one’s political thought, has the power to formalize questions.
And with us iconic photos?
Indeed, the iconic image of the moment is Doctor Elena Pagliarini, taken by her colleague and Doctor Francesca Mangiatorri after a shift of over 12 hours in the hospital. In this case, the reading of the image is more immediate and, therefore, less didactic. Also, I am convinced that, in this specific case, the black and white photography helps to focus attention on the subject better.
Another symbolic image that undoubtedly marked this period here is that of the protest of the traders. This image is less impactful as a photo but very effective in its reading and as a message. If before we had flags and masks, here the critical symbol is undoubtedly the key. The key opens and closes the doors. While symbolically, it can be read as a symbol of opening or closing.
Tramp Cover. Photo: (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Elena Pagliarini Photo: (Francesca Mangiatorri – Corriere della Sera )
Keys Photo: (Ansa – L’Avvenire)