Starting today, Taguspark – Knowledge City and the Cultural Centre 11 Association present the photographic exhibition THE DISUNITED STATES OF AMERICA, a portrait of a highly mobilised but also deeply divided country. The exhibition will be open to the public at the Taguspark Central Hub, in Oeiras, from 19 March to 14 May, with free admission.
The exhibition records the journey that photographer João Porfírio made with journalist João de Almeida Dias to cover the US presidential campaign for the Observador. They travelled over 2,600 km in 16 days, between 24 October and 7 November 2020.
The work now on display records a country that is politically engaged, but severely torn. In New York, they found a city still suffering from the trauma of the Covid-19 pandemic; they portrayed Scranton, Pennsylvania, the hometown of Joe Biden, which Donald Trump has accused him of abandoning; in Philadelphia, they reported on the African-American community and encountered the demonstrations and looting that followed the death of Walter Wallace Jr; in West Virginia, they captured the atmosphere of a drug rehabilitation centre; in Youngstown, Ohio, they showed the survivors of a town where a General Motors plant closed down; in Pennsylvania, they attended one of Trump’s biggest rallies of the campaign; in Philadelphia, they covered one of Joe Biden’s innovative drive-in rallies; in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania, they reported on election night at the home of a Trump supporter; in Philadelphia, during the vote count, they covered a pro-Biden and a pro-Trump rally; back in New York, they witnessed the street celebrations that accompanied Joe Biden’s election.
João de Almeida Dias reports that “in the 16 days we were together in the USA reporting, we found no one willing to find middle ground. We heard those who compared Trump to the worst fascists, and also those who equated Biden with communist dictators. We also met people who had stopped talking to friends or family because they could not tolerate their political views. We passed through four states: New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio, where we jointly made 16 reports. We went from the immense buildings of Manhattan to the endless plains of Ohio. We spoke to people who were happy about the state of their country, and others who felt on edge. Here, we tell you what those days were like, among the people we met and the challenges we encountered.”
For the exhibition’s curator, Maria Mann, “João Porfírio and João de Almeida Dias have documented the very heart of today’s America very eloquently and evocatively. Their images and words place us directly at the centre of a Disunited America”.
Eduardo Baptista Correia, Taguspark CEO, highlights “Taguspark’s commitment in supporting the transformation of exceptional journalistic work into an exhibition that portrays and reports on an important point in the recent history of the United States of America and of Western democracies, the North American elections”.
The exhibition and catalogue were produced with the sponsorship of Taguspark and the support of Casa da Imprensa, in partnership with the Observador. The CC11 cultural association, which coordinated this initiative, was founded in early 2020 and aims to disseminate and promote photography and photojournalism in Portugal.