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Listening to the candidate, Rego Park, Queens, August 25, 2011. All images ©William Meyers


“Civic life is the life we live in dealing with problems of common concern”—this quote from an essay by David Tucker and Nathan Tucker is the epigraph for my Civics project, which considers the ways in which people in a community, in this case New York City, resolve problems and work together on programmes of mutual improvement. My inspiration comes in part from the medical discipline of wellness studies, in which scientists try to understand how the human body is functioning when things are going right, and not only when it is disturbed by disease. At a time when partisan feelings are strong, and among members of all political factions the favourite candidate for President is “None of the Above”,  Civics steps back to look at the broad scope of things.

The exhibition of photographs from the Civics project at the Nailya Alexander Gallery in New York this month is divided into four sections. The first, Politics, has to do with the formal process for “dealing with problems of common concern.” The second, Demonstrations, looks at how groups make known their particular concerns, and the third, Press, at how these concerns are reported to the public. Powwows, the fourth section, includes pictures of lectures, conferences, meetings and social gatherings where problems are discussed and plans are made for dealing with them.


Election night, Republican Headquarters, Hilton Hotel, November 2, 2011

Listening to the candidate, Rego Park, Queens, August 25, 2011
is a key image in the first section. This was a special election to fill a seat in Congress vacated by a representative who resigned when he was exposed in a sex scandal, so the constituents felt betrayed. The man in the pictures seems to be not only listening to what the candidate is saying, but also trying to read his character in his face. I assume the man in Election night, Republican Headquarters, Hilton Hotel, November 2, 2011 is some sort of political operative, one of those people who have a hand in politics, but are never in a position of accountability; his face is unreadable.

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