About the Project:
For two years Mark Peterson photographed the sociopolitical landscape of the United States and the spectacle that was the 2016 U.S. presidential election. He travelled the country attending rallies, debates, town halls and caucuses. He met voters and candidates alike and with a keen eye he observed the drama, comedy (and sometimes the farce) of the America political machine. In the forward to the book, John Heilemann says “No journalist covering the 2016 election in any medium more beautifully and harrowingly captured the campaign and our politics more generally than Mark Peterson. In Political Theatre, Peterson [observes] the transparent fakery and moments of accidental authenticity, and the abject chaos that has transfixed and often mortified anyone paying attention...The result is a series of images that are vivid, stunning, surprising, and searingly revealing. They are also deeply true.”
From the spring of 2014 through the election in November 2016, Mark’s unique and acute sensibility was the visual voice of MSNBC’s digital political coverage. I commissioned him to photograph nearly every aspect of the campaign and most of our related sociopolitical photo essays published by the MSNBC photo team during the campaign season. He was far more than a photographer on assignment though; he was a partner, a collaborator and a trusted voice. Given the option of a more traditional approach to assigning photography for an election season, I decided rather than trying to compete with other media companies with deeper budgets and who were able to dispatch many photographers at a time, I would focus our efforts instead on just one consistent visual voice for every story building over time a much larger and deeper statement on our political system, the process, our media and the country at large at this unprecedented moment in history.
Most of the photographs in the book (see the video below), were made while on assignment for MSNBC and is a result of Mark’s focus, his intelligence, tenacity, acute understanding for the absurd and above all else his empathetic and sensitive eye. Publisher Gerhard Steidl was responsible for the stunning book published in November 2016 in Göttingen, Germany.
Photography Director / Editor
March 2014 - November 2016
Photographs by Mark Peterson
Mark Peterson awarded the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund Grant in Humanistic Photography for “Political Theatre”, 2018
Photographer of The Year, PDN Photo Annual, Mark Peterson for “Political Theatre”, 2017