BY ANDREW KALLOCH
Escaping to the tunnels to avoid wintry weather just got a whole lot more interesting. An exhibition of 25 photographs from the 2008 Presidential Campaign opened in the tunnels beneath the Law School on January 26. The exhibit, titled “On the Road: Campaign ’08,” is the work of Brett Marty, a photographer and filmmaker based in San Francisco.
As the press photographer for political blog FiveThirtyEight.com, Marty traveled alongside journalist Sean Quinn through 15 swing states and produced over 900 photographs of the candidates and their supporters. The Record asked Marty about the origins of his project and the role of the arts in a time of turmoil
How did you develop the idea for this project?
The idea for the project developed very naturally. We [Marty and Quinn] were both very invested in the election and going on the road to see the ground campaign throughout the country was naturally suited to us. Sean had walked across the country for two years, and my previous photography project led me to drive a rusty Buick from San Francisco to Tierra del Fuego at the bottom of Argentina.
Sean and I had not met until the we began the project How it resulted was, more or less, a series of coincidences. I had just finished my documentary on Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the old Beat poet from City Lights Books in San Francisco, and Sean was at a crossroads in his career, leaving professional poker for political journalism. Sean started on the road in Nevada and picked me up in San Francisco at the beginning of September. From there we went to Clark County in Nevada, and began our routine of speaking with volunteers and organizers, squeezing information from state campaign directors, and reporting on rallies when we intersected with the candidates. We stopped at every battleground state on our way west, and by the time we reached Florida, we had only three days left to cover Georgia and get back to Grant Park in Chicago for Election Night.
Do you think art should have a place in Obama’s stimulus bill, ala the New Deal? Why and in what form?
I think in tough economic times, art is generally thought of as a “dispensable luxury.” Putting the importance of cultural value aside, it’s a $166 billion industry that provides 5.7 million jobs that can’t be outsourced. The arts are an especially important target for the Stimulus bill because even though they are a productive part of the economy with a particularly passionate workforce, many arts programs were the first to go when the economy began to stumble. Like the logging camps of FDR’s [Civilian Conservation Corps], it could potentially create thousands of civil jobs, anything from mural painting to arts education.
The exhibit is sponsored by the HLS Dean of Students Office, the Black Law Students Association, the South Asian Law Students Association, and the HLS Democrats. It runs through February 19. For more photos from the On the Road series, visit BrettMarty.com.