Bruce Checefsky

The Unamericans: Photographs from the Republican National Convention, Cleveland, Ohio, July 18-21 2016

October 7 – 29

Friday, October 7 from 6-9pm

I published a book of photographs taken at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland from July 18-22, 2016. The book titled THE UNAMERICANS is a critical observation of the distinctive GOP at an astonishing time in our political history. My photographs were taken outside the Quicken Loans convention arena, near restaurants and bars, as a way to record the social character of the political event. I was interested in documenting the RNC as a way of understanding who these people are and why they support their candidate. The front cover of my book is a photograph of an African American male looking out the window taken from the interior of a city bus and quotes Swiss photographer Robert Frank’s front cover of the seminal photo essay The Americans (1958), of a city bus with people framed by the windows and photographed from the sidewalk. I've taken this interior position -- from the inside looking out -- throughout the project.

My concept for the series of photographs titled THE UNAMERICANS was to document the street culture surrounding the Republican National Convention using my IPhone 5 as the primary camera, to better understand the nature of political events surrounding the upcoming election in November 2016. I was primarily interested in the RNC as a flashpoint for recording the massive presence of law enforcement and international news media, with the idea that both forces present the special event in ways that are different than the person on the street. I mainly photographed along the East 4th Street corridor, walkways and streets leading to the convention site at Quicken Loans Arena and near the newly designed $50 million Public Square renovation. I photographed political protestors, RNC convention delegates, news media personalities, security forces including local and out of state police, and visitors to the city. My intention with THE UNAMERICANS is to present this suite of photographs as an act of social discourse of a very American experience presented in book form and eventually in exhibitions as a shared experience of these extraordinary times. I return to my roots as a documentary street photographer with this project.