This is a picture of a papier mache float in the Rose Monday carnival parade in Dusseldorf, March 3, 2003. The woman emerging from Uncle Sam’s buttocks is Angela Merkel, subsequently elected the first woman Chancellor of Germany in 2005 and currently considered by Forbes Magazine to be the most powerful woman in the world (followed in second place by Condolessa Rice). At the time of this photograph she was the leader of the conservative opposition in Germany and highly critical of the government’s anti-Iraq stance; she had also just returned from a trip to Washington, D.C.
Photo Credit: Ina Fassbinder/Reuters (and with thanks to Stefan Sharkansky)
Our primary goal with this blog is to talk about the ways in which photojournalism contributes to a vital democratic public culture. Much of the time that means we are focusing on what purport to be more or less serious matters. But as Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert often remind us, democracy needs irony, parody, and pure silliness as much as it needs serious contemplation. For our part, we will dedicate our Sunday posts to putting such moments on display in what we call “sight gags,” democracy’s nod to the ironic and/or the carnivalesque. Sometimes we will post pictures we’ve taken, or that have been contributed by others, or that we just happen to stumble across as we navigate our very visual public culture. Sometimes the images will be pure silliness, but sometimes they will point to ironies, poignant and otherwise. And we won’t just be limited to photography, as a robust democratic visual culture consists of much more. We typically will not comment beyond offering an identifying label, leaving the images to “speak” for themselves as much as possible. Of course we invite you to comment … and to send us images that you think capture the carnival of contemporary democratic public culture.