Mark Peterson’s “Political Theatre”


Mark Peterson, The CPAC convention, National Harbor, MD, February 2015

Sen. Rand Paul won the Conservative Political Action Conference straw poll for the third year in a row on Saturday, with 25.7% of the vote, event organizers announced Saturday at the National Harbor, Maryland, Confab.
But the biggest winner of the straw poll was perhaps Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who catapulted from fifth last year to second place this year and came in just four points behind Paul, with 21.4% support. He delivered one of the conference’s best-received speeches, laying out his vision for the economy and drawing enthusiastic applause that overshadowed a tone-deaf answer he gave on foreign policy.
The closely watched survey of conference attendees represents a small but vocal faction of the Republican party, and the voters tend to be younger and libertarian leaning as many college students attend the gathering. Paul won in 2014 and 2013, and his father, a libertarian icon and former Texas congressman Ron Paul won in 2010 and 2011. 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney won that year.


Mark Peterson, Attendees at the RedState Gathering watch the first 2016 Republican presidential debate, which took place in Atlanta, GA, August 6, 2016

Red State Gathering attendees watch the debate on Fox News. Atlanta becomes the center of the American political universe this weekend as 10 Republican presidential hopefuls gather here for the Red State Gathering at the Intercontinental Buckhead on Peachtree Road.
The gathering, named after the conservative political website, is the brainchild of WSB Radio host Erick Erickson. It’s a three-day convention of top GOP elected officials, 700 activists, 150 journalists and begins this evening — concurrent with the first major debates of the 2016 presidential campaign. Tickets for the gathering are sold out.
It’s not just presidential candidates speaking. A number of governors and other Republican luminaries will appear, all sandwiched around panels on topics such as The Power of Twitter and civil asset forfeiture.


Mark Peterson, The press section at Senator Ted Cruz event, Columbia, SC, January 15, 2016

On October 17, 2018, Mark Peterson won the 2018 W. Eugene Smith Grant for Humanistic Photography. The Smith Fund honored Peterson’s The Past is Never Dead. The series contain photographs of “the modern-day American confederacy and White Nationalism by taking a close look at its traditions, symbols and leaders, documenting inside homes, schools, and on the streets, as this political and cultural movement establishes the contemporary incarnation of white supremacy.”

The above trio of photos, from Peterson’s Political Theatre project, were included in the ICP exhibition Winning the White House: From Press Prints to Selfies.

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