The Far Side of the Barrier

In September 2020, I was finishing assisting photographer Kris Graves as he documented monuments and academic institutions honoring members of the Confederacy. As we zigzagged across the South, news began to circulate that the presidential debates would be moved from their original host universities to major cities. I decided to embark on a road trip connecting each debate city, where I would photograph around the events, but never venture beyond the press barriers. My aim was to provide a visual narrative that spanned these historic events from the perspective of the landscapes and people I encountered, while using the debates as narrative structural pieces.

Marshall Scheuttle is a Las Vegas-based artist who makes his home mostly on the road. He has an MFA from the University of Hartford and a BFA from SUNY Purchase College. A 2020 Nevada Arts Council fellow, Scheuttle’s first book, Morningstar, was published by KGP in July 2021. His website. His full bio.

Protestors. Washington, DC. August 2020 — While walking to the White House, we unexpectedly encountered a large group of protestors marching into the night. The experience of meandering through DC with packs of vigilant youth being corralled by police and the military is one I’ll never shake.
Daytona Beach, Fla. October 2020. One day before the Mike Pence rally — I stationed myself in Daytona Beach, as I planned to divert to the Pence rallies outside of Orlando. I spent much of that time on the boardwalk photographing people. I never asked about their political affiliation or thoughts on Covid-19, and I made it clear I was photographing because I was there and wanted to make beautiful photographs of strangers.
Daytona Beach, Fla. October 2020 — I ran into two women on the beach photographing each other with their phones and I asked this woman, name unknown, if I could take her portrait. I often think about how we are constantly sharing imagery of ourselves and how it’s unconsciously connected to advertising and politics. For me, this photo was about respect — the understanding and kindness in her gaze in the middle of a brewing storm.
Atlanta, Georgia. October 2020. One week after the first presidential debate — Alex is a photographer, too. He just released his first book, which is on the subject of growing up in America with a mixed-race background and the way he was received in different communities based on his appearance. That night we drank by a fire in his backyard, where he was gracious enough to let me pitch my tent on the deck of the patio. Representations and assumptions based on appearance stayed on my mind, as I headed toward the looming storms in Florida.
Cleveland, Ohio. September 2020. Directly above the first presidential debate — As protestors and other people gathered outside the rally, helicopters churned overhead illuminating the various groups. I remember standing on the corner photographing as the light hovered over me, revealing my presence to a wall of riot-geared police.
Cleveland, Ohio. September 2020. Outside the first presidential debate — This person seemed to be livestreaming a report directly outside the barricade. I weaved in and out of his camera’s sightline, so as not to be included in the coverage. I couldn’t shake the idea that we were all simultaneously broadcasting our own interpretation of history, while also playing a role in someone else’s.

Marshall Scheuttle is a Las Vegas-based artist who makes his home mostly on the road. He has an MFA from the University of Hartford and a BFA from SUNY Purchase College. A 2020 Nevada Arts Council fellow, Scheuttle’s first book, Morningstar, was published by KGP in July 2021. His website. His full bio.

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