Reflections of a demonstration: the woman’s march, 2017, New York City

I am trying to make the best out of an unwelcome break from the Palestinian territories with a few modest digressions. This one, from January, 2017, could also have been titled “the lonely demonstration.” I prepared it in a more innocent time, but never posted it until a thread on crowd photography, on the FlakPhoto Network, inspired me to take it out of mothballs. The third to last image is the cover of a book due out next week, Photography and Imagination, which I co-edited with Amos Morris-Reich.

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21 January, 2017, the day after the inauguration of Donald Trump. Some 400,000 people, women and men, flood the streets of New York City armed with signs and other demonstration gear, delighting in the unity of the Women’s March. They are there to support those most threatened by an improbable election with perhaps lethal consequences, of a narcissist with impulses out of his own control let alone ours. Not only women, but also lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, disabled, racial and ethnic minorities, immigrants and more. They blend into one another and at the same time assert their individuality: a different sign,

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a performance

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At the edges of the demonstration, people capture its reflection

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there are lone acts of participation at a height. Lacking a long lens, only photoshop can tell me that her sign reads “A Woman’s Place is Leading the Resistance.” Can the other demonstrators read it?

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bystanders watch from above. Are they supporters or doubters? Are they taking pictures from their windows or messaging friends: “I’m about to go down to the street: won’t you join?”

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On the street the demonstrators feel less lonely for the moment and wonder what happens next. More than two and a half years later we know a little more, but we are still wondering.

all photographs and text margaret olin © 2019

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