Credit: Chip Somodevilla.
Washington, D.C., 1 June 2018. A group of five walk across the White House lawn towards the President's helicopter (a USAF Sikorsky S-92) known as Marine One. Leading the group is the President's daughter Tiffany (age 24), an undergraduate at Georgetown Law, slightly petulant in a Chanel dress, nude clear heels, carrying a tiny Dolce handbag with black applique flowers. Then come the "golden couple," Jared (age 37), smirking, supercilious, in a dark two-button slim-cut suit with cutaway-collar shirt, a Brylcreemed traditional 1940s-style side-parting hairstyle, carrying a Mulberry leather weekend bag. Jared is hand-in-hand with Ivanka (age 36) who wears wide beige 1940s-style trousers, four-inch Choo stiletto heels with a cream-silk blouse and dark teardrop aviator pilot sunglasses that contrast with her straight-blond centre-parted hair. Behind them a USAF airman in service dress uniform (so, not flying the aircraft) and a White House staffer comparatively ungroomed in a cheap suit, shoulder-bag, and wide grey-striped tie with Wayfarer-style sunglasses (which recall both the 1980s and 1950s). The group are bound for Camp David in Maryland for a weekend break.
Overall, the photograph catches the "stagey" quality (SOED: pertaining to the stage; theatrical; dramatically artificial or exaggerated; affected) of those depicted. Their dress-and-styling is studied and considered to the extent that the picture seems not to be a basic photojournalist's snapshot (which is what it is). The picture has the atmosphere of an image from a mannered photo-shoot for GQ, or a film-still taken on a movie-set where a scene in a Hollywood political thriller is being shot. Everything is posed under the rubric of "plausibility" but those involved seem too patently to be "playing a role." It is easy to imagine that each one might have been dressed and styled by a crew of professionals before coming "on set." The aura that pervades the photo is that of the inauthentic and the inauthoritative.
(19 July 2018)