The Republican National Convention


I first set out to document the Republican National Convention in search of the people who champion the demagogue Donald Trump; I wanted to juxtapose these individuals with opposing groups of liberal activists also in Cleveland protesting for social rights. Cleveland, rife with racism, class separation and police violence, seemed like the perfect battle ground for voices looking to be heard in the months leading up to this presidential election. However, the conference had very little to do with its host city or any individual political affiliation for that matter. Instead, a few square blocks of downtown were transformed into various soapboxes for anyone looking for his or her own media outlet. Any pre-internet idea of protest had morphed from being here now to being online and everywhere all at once. The omnipresent “soft force” of the police on hand kept everything smothered and quiet while the media sat around bored and looking for the smallest morsel to throw into the never-ending scroll of social media. There were more police officers than republican delegates, more photojournalists than protestors, and the people who actually live in the area were forgotten while their daily lives were turned upside down by public transportation delays and road closures. So in the end this body of work reveals an array of people from different cities with their own social mishaps, all coming together in one place with the intention of being seen and heard everywhere else with the aid of the ubiquitous upload.

Jacob Koestler is an artist and musician from Johnstown, Pennsylvania who holds an MFA from Ohio University’s Photography and Integrated Media program. With photography, video and multimedia installations, he creates narratives that reevaluate archetypes in rural Appalachia, the Rust Belt and other post-industrial settings. Koestler also creates live scores for his videos under the name Rural Carrier and is a co-founder of My Idea of Fun, an art and music archive that features over 300 releases including a number of his photography books and audio cassettes. He currently works in the Photography + Video Department at The Cleveland Institute of Art, and his artwork has been exhibited and published internationally.