Obama's People

23 January – 14 March 2010

Nikolaj Kunsthal
Nikolaj Plads 10
1067 Copenhagen

One year after Barack Obama’s inauguration in the White House, Nikolaj, Copenhagen Contemporary Art Center, presents a unique insight into the staff surrounding the most powerful man in the world.

Shortly before the inauguration, British photographer Nadav Kander photographed 53 people appointed by the President to trusted positions – from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to young spin doctor Jon Favreau, cowboy hat-clad Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Obama’s relaxed personal assistant Reggie Love and Republican Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.

Kander puts faces to the otherwise anonymous machinery of power behind the President, and the photographs display the striking diversity in terms of age, sex, ethnic backgrounds and personal styles to be found in Obama’s People.

By isolating the individual persons up against a white backdrop, Kander emphasises details in their facial expressions, body language or dress that speak for themselves. The participants were given the opportunity to bring with them to the photo shoot a personal item which might give the spectator a clue to who they are – an iPod, a basketball, a book, a cookie, a cowboy hat.

The photographs were originally commissioned by The New York Times Magazine for a special issue to be published two days before Obama’s inauguration in the White House in January 2009. The series is partly inspired by Richard Avedon’s legendary 1976 portraits of the US power elite for Rolling Stone Magazine.