Opinion | A Photographer’s American Road Trip

These past four years, I’ve been on a photographic road trip of the United States. It often seems that there are two Americas, left and right, looking at the same place from radically different and irreconcilable perspectives.

This week I found myself on the grounds of the White House. It was a drizzly, dreary morning. Dug up sections of the lawn adjacent to a lineup of broadcast tents appeared like graves. A theater of the real. I photographed Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, who is all about work, in his Capitol office. On his coffee table lay a biography of the “Silent General,” Ulysses S. Grant.

There are many types of power and means of taking measure of the powerful. Many of my photographs are made out of a profound sense of powerlessness but also out of a desire to locate power and authority in unexpected places: in the natural world, in a solitary border patrol officer or in the intimacy and strength of a family under a bridge that connects the United States to Mexico. These images are reminders to me that our American landscape and the communities within it transcend this cultural and political moment

Second through sixth images: An-My Lê for The New York Times; all other images courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery.

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