NSFW: A Student's Hard-Hitting Trump Quote Photo Series Goes Viral

NSFW: A Student's Hard-Hitting Trump Quote Photo Series Goes Viral

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Ad hominem is often the type of fallacy rolled out when Trump has come under-fire for his misogynistic quotes in the past. The problem is, Trump's words about women and his political acumen are not easily separated out. This wide-spread difficulty has lead to backlash manifesting itself in a number of ways. One of the recent and most powerful ways has been Student Aria Watson's photo series.18-year-old student of Clatsop Community College in Oregon created her photo series titled "#SignedByTrump" as a project for her photography class, but it has unexpectedly garnered a worldwide audience and consequent debate.

Used with the permission of Aria Watson.

Political satirist Jonathan Pie commented on Trump's campaign by noting that the frequency and magnitude of the scandals that kept making it to press desensitized people to just how awful some of them were. Where as any one of the many misogynistic quotes would have landed other candidates firmly in the soup, Trump had developed a sort of armour from scandals made up of the corpses of other scandals. This resulted in outrage but so much fell on deaf ears. Aria's series has done wonders to apply the gravitas these quotes ought to have through making his words visual, visceral and each quote distinct from one another. If the sheer volume of misogyny was the numbing agent, then Aria's series is doing a fantastic job of bringing sensation back en masse.

Used with the permission of Aria Watson.

 

Aria started the series a few weeks prior to the election taking place but Trump's victory ignited her enthusiasm to finish the project. Aria explained to me how she is worried that the quotes in this series do not yield the appropriate consequences stating that "I'm afraid that words, and even actions like this will become a social norm." As important as the series is to Aria, it didn't come without its ordinary photographic difficulties, chiefly finding models.

I could not have done this project without the help of my models. I had such a difficult time finding people who were willing to model for me. Not only is it hard for people to strip down in front of someone and let them paint on their body, but it’s hard for a lot of people to be open about their political opinions.

One element to the images that struck me as a photographer was the choice not to include the faces of the models. With faceless portraits, there's always a chance that you will lose a connection with your audience as it is in the face where a lot of the subject's "story" lies, but it's effective here and before I mentioned to Aria why I thought that, she articulated that thought as one of her two reasons.

I decided to keep everyone's face out of the photos and keep them anonymous for two main reasons. For one, anonymity in art can be powerful, people can picture whoever they want on those bodies. The second reason is that these girls are not just models to me. They are friends, family, and one is even a self portrait.

Aria admitted that she has even come under fire for not including enough of an ethnic diversity in her series but given the sensitive nature of the project's subject, the partial nudity and the fact she lives in a small town, it was not entirely possible to branch out as much as she may have liked. Despite some criticism, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive towards Aria, even sometimes "moving her to tears".

Used with the permission of Aria Watson.

In closing, Aria wanted to thank her photography professor, David Homer, for all of his support on this series and she also has a message to all of the people who have rallied behind her project:

To everyone who has supported me and “#SignedByTrump.” don’t let anyone silence you. Don’t be afraid to speak up about what you are passionate about. I don’t know why Donald Trump is in office, or how this even happened, but he is. What we need now more than ever is to come together. We are stronger together.

If you would like to see Aria discussing her project, here's a Youtube vlog she recorded yesterday: 

While there has been a lot of support for Aria, such a contentious and politically motivated project is going to usher in a lot of unpleasantness. While healthy debate is welcomed, I'd like to remind you to keep your comments reasoned and relevant. Whether you support Trump or not, this project was conducted by an 18-year-old photographer in her Introduction to Photography college class with the intention of expressing her feelings towards Trump's comments and she did not expect the series to go viral, so feedback ought to have an appreciation of those facts.

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59 Comments

Pedro Pulido's picture

how to exploit a recent political issue 101 for dummies. Get a naked friend, write some shit the donald said, put it online, get famous.
fair enough.
not really very original. anyone could have done it.
pics are not amazing. The idea though, comes at the right time for sure.

Tam Nguyen's picture

^^^ How to be "that guy" on the internet 101 for dummies. You sir, check all the boxes.

Anton Lenke's picture

The other guy, of course, is the one looking at these and then commenting: there's a lot of fall off and which lens did you use? :)

Calling her work a template for dummies and saying she's doing it purely for fame assumes she's something we can't say is true, so take these for what they are. An artistic statement, one I think is well done.

Come on be honest, it's not THAT original or that well executed. The framing looks rushed IMO.

It has as much "power" as a person holding a sign except they are naked. That's why OP said it was a bit reheated as a concept. (Famous "I'm protesting with just a sing" + nakedness).

Pedro Pulido's picture

sir, i don't really care about your opinion the same way you don't care about mine. Opinions are exactly that. more to yourself than to others. cheers.

Jonathan Brady's picture

Would you mind sharing with us the politically-inspired A+ photography you were churning out at 18? Given the tone of superiority and condescension from your post, I have to assume you have tons of it at your fingertips. In fact, if you'd like to point me towards one of your many books from your teens, I'd be happy to pick it up.
You may want to put those stones down...

I see no stones; just an opinion that you don't agree with.

Jonathan Brady's picture

What you see as someone's opinion is actually just insulting falsehoods, said in a derogatory tone. Thus my characterization as "stones"
Stone 1: asserting exploitation - this was created for an art class, not for fame. Recognition of the work was a side effect of the project, not the intent. There was and is no exploitation.
Stone 2: belittling the work by grouping the creator with "dummies". That's just an a-hole thing to say.
Stone 3: pretending to know the thought process and workflow of the photographer and presenting it as mindless and simple - not only that, as I mentioned before, asserting this was done with the intent to become famous. Additionally, asserting that a male can see inside the mind of a female when it comes to misogyny would be comical if it weren't so ignorant. It's very much like a white person telling a black person that they are empathetic to the injustices black people face. We can't know, so it's better to shut the f up about it. (by the way, I'm not asserting that those 2 scenarios are equal, only that thinking, from the outside, that you could possibly be empathetic about it is impossible)
Stone 4: trivializing the work by stating that anyone could have done it. 1) it's not true that anyone could have done it, and 2) seeing as how this photographer was the first, that does, in fact, make it original.
Stone 5: saying the pics are not amazing... 1) we need to define "amazing" (I heard someone say a cup of coffee was amazing this morning) but 2) I would venture to guess that most people would consider an image "amazing" when it organically goes viral. At that point, the minutiae of the image(s) cease to matter.
Honestly, the OP's post comes off as jealousy. Oh, and ignorance.

Paint it how you'd like, it's an opinion.

Pedro Pulido's picture

Thank god there's freedom of speech. That way i can say whatever i please.
I'd change all my words if the pictures where super original and something new. but honestly, they just look like snaps against a black background...
again, my opinion.

Jonathan Brady's picture

Freedom of speech is a legal right to openly express an opinion without fear of retaliation from the government. It has absolutely nothing to do with comments on a website.
Your political knowledge/discourse needs a little polish.

Pedro Pulido's picture

if you wish to take it that seriously, than consider the synonyme Freedom of expression. and please, relax. it is just my opinion. you may not agree, but you should respect it. As for the terms i used, you're cleeearly taking it too seriously... chill. nobody died.

Pedro Pulido's picture

Jonathan you're free to assume as you please. i shared my opinion. that was it. apparently it has been troubling a lot of people... quite honestly i don't care that much and feel no need to explain what i said. you may interpret it as you wish. cheers

Jonathan Brady's picture

I don't think it's troubling a lot of people. I think it's simply a matter of people calling you on your crap. Have a listen to this and I think you'll get the point
https://youtu.be/Cy00OIRnPuk

Pedro Pulido's picture

not gonna bother and give you the satisfaction of making any comments to your post. have a nice day.

Justin Berrington's picture

Yep! Anyone could have done it. But no one else did except her.

Pedro Pulido's picture

yes yes, that we definitely agree on my friend.

Agreed...completely derivative.

Jon Wolding's picture

We're gonna get so much good art as a response to this presidency...

Rex Jones's picture

The photographer obviously has some very deep feelings towards her project, it comes through loud and clear. Art, in any form, tells stories and sends messages; it has done so throughout history. I do think that the ideas behind the shoot have some powerful grounding. Series like this are perfect for getting people to think.

This photographer is far from the first person to create a series of images to send a clear message to the world. My favorite example of a photographer who uses their medium to share powerful messages is Benjamin Von Wong. He has created so many series of images that send very powerful messages and all of his series like that promote progress! Benjamin shares messages of needed change and positive ways to promote the change.

The fact that she got people talking is a good thing, I think. She created images that shared a clear message and her viewers (us) got the point. Even if all they do is get people to think, then she accomplished her mission.

Ehh.... I get it. And im sure the photographer has a good feeling about them. But I for one am not a fan, seeing the left lose their minds over this past election has been quite entertaining, yet now it's become just boring to say the least. And honestly in today's crude society, you could put just about any ones name under these quotes, and they would have the same lack luster results. What's the phrase.... sticks and stones may break my bones.... but words will never hurt me. And for those that say words hurt, well that is what therapy is for.

Alex Cooke's picture

Except words coming from the president-elect of the United States that can directly translate to enacted policies, enabled supporters, and rewritten culture can indeed "hurt" by the aforementioned mechanisms.

Anonymous's picture

But nothing about the words of Hillary Clinton. They were both flawed candidates but it's easier to overlook your guy's (or gal's) flaws.

Hans Rosemond's picture

This conversation is about the president-elect. Hillary Clinton is not the president- elect. I understand the sentiment, but there's no hypocricy here. It would be different if Alex said something comparing the two, but for all you know he's a Libertarian. To jump to comclusions does nobody any favors.

Anonymous's picture

Of course, you're right regarding the topic at hand. Perhaps I unfairly extrapolated various comments from the campaign, when they were equals, but based on Alex's other postings, I doubt it. (My opinion)

Regarding Mr. Trump's position as President Elect, his comments were made before that, in some cases several years beforehand. I would expect the weight of office will temper his future comments but I'm not going to hold my breath.

Alex Cooke's picture

I'd like to point out that I didn't even give my personal judgment of Trump's words; I simply pointed out the fact that indeed, words have power, particularly when coming from someone in his position — a position that Hillary Clinton is not in and thus the very reason why I didn't mention her, never mind the fact that the project that is the focus of this article is about Trump. I would be more than happy to engage in rational discourse with you on these topics, but you've already invested me with religious and now political bias in your mind when I've specifically avoided giving you any evidence with which to do so. As Hans pointed out, one couldn't even infer my general political affiliations from what I wrote, so to continually "extrapolate" from my sparse comments indicates nothing but confirmation bias on your part, and I'm sorry, but that's not a discussion I wish to participate in.

Anonymous's picture

Correctly, or incorrectly, I did infer your POV. I could be completely wrong about your views. I tend to mistrust anyone who doesn't state their opinions and biases, particularly when their words indicate their views but they hide behind not having stated them emphatically. That's not to say your views, whatever they may be, are wrong in any way, only that your words seem to indicate a view with which I disagree regarding the topic at hand.

In this case, ignoring the fact that most, if not all, of Mr. Trump's comments were made prior to becoming President Elect says something about your POV. I can't imagine you, and certainly not I, would like to have everything you've ever said held against you.

Alex Cooke's picture

As someone who works for this site, it's not my job to color major stories with my personal opinion all the time, because then the discussion turns into debating the author instead of the topic at hand. I promise you that in a more personal realm, I have no qualms about stating my opinions.

Anonymous's picture

I go to Cleveland a few times a year to photograph industrial sites. Maybe we'll run into each other and talk over lunch.

Alex Cooke's picture

That would be lovely. Feel free to get in touch when you're here!

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