Obama's People arrive at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

By Culture24 Staff | 11 May 2009
A picture of a woman in a suit staring into the distance

(Above) Hilary Rodham Clinton. Picture © Nadav Kander for The New York Times

Exhibition: Obama's People, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham, until August 31 2009.

Even for those who didn't support the Democrats in the 2008 US election, one aspect of the overwhelming change must be a relief.

Gone are the faceless Texans in cowboy hats and anonymous checked shirts, replaced by a noticeably more photogenic hierarchy (despite Interior Department Designate Ken Salazar's preference for Stetsons.)

Shot on the eve of the presidential inauguration, Israeli photographer Nadav Kander's 52 portraits of the leading members of Barack Obama’s new government show men and women of all races and ages. It debuts in Birmingham, the UK city twinned with Obama’s hometown of Chicago.

A black and white man of a picture staring into the distance

Barack Obama. Picture © Nadav Kander for The New York Times

Hilary Rodham Clinton stares off into the middle distance in a picture which makes her look like she's daydreaming of what might have been had she not come up aginst the Obama factor.

Eugene Kang, the President’s Special Assistant, is too busy to face the camera as he beavers at his telephone notebook, and Reggie Love, Obama’s "Personal Aide", stands open-shirted, a grin shining from his face, sunglasses hanging where a tie could have uneasily knotted, jacket casually draped under one arm.

A picture of a man in an open-necked shirt with sunglasses

Reggie Love. Picture © Nadav Kander for The New York Times

Kander says the catalogue, commissioned by New York Times Photo Editor Kathy Ryan, left him "honoured" to be part of "this historical moment", brought to Brum by Rhonda Wilson of local photo agency Rhubarb-Rhubarb.

Wilson reckons the "hugely significant project" fits the diversity of Birmingham and the West Midlands, and local political and business leaders have saluted the publicity the show has won for the city.

A picture of a woman in a suit smiling

Nancy Pelosi (current Speaker of the US House of Representatives.) Picture © Nadav Kander for The New York Times

David Noble, of education partners Staffordshire University, echoes their sentiments. "It represents the opportunity to be involved with a project that encapsulates precisely the values we associate with photography," he adds.

"These images communicate, intensely and vividly, the spirit of a historic moment that is filled with new hope, in a way that cannot be achieved in any other medium."

Visit BMAG online or call 0121 303 2834 for more details.

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