What happens when you expect scenes of joy, and fate provides pathos instead?
“I thought I would be photographing a celebration,” says Alex Golshani (photography ’16), about the evening of the presidential election. “I expected to be making images of mothers and daughters witnessing an historic event and tearfully jubilant voters relieved after a close call with a nightmare scenario.”
Here are several of Golshani’s photos and comments about election night and the protests that followed. The photos are part of his “11/9” series that was published as a book.
“I was in the crowd outside of Javits Center and as the votes were being reported. This woman (above) was the first person I saw tearing up. I took it as a sign of what was coming,” says Golshani.
“His portraits illustrate the face of the country at this moment of time,” says Professor Curtis Willocks of his former student. “Alex is a thinker. He’s cerebral. He’s always looking. He’s always thinking. He is so observant of people and light. His work has always stood out.”
Outside the Javits Center, Khizr Kahn (above) and other prominent Clinton supporters gave speeches. “Mr. Kahn was of particular interest to me because of his role in the campaign and his bold opposition to discrimination and bullying,” says Golshani.
“Alex Golshani’s stark and moving black and white images of election night and the protests that followed poignantly and sensitively capture the mood of despair, disbelief and brewing anger of the moment.
– Ed Kashi acclaimed photojournalist and author
When the crowd cleared, Golshani walked to Times Square where he found a mix of supporters from each side. “People were arguing and yelling. That man (above) in the suit just looked stunned, like he couldn’t believe what was happening,” says Golshani.
“His portraits illustrate the face of the country at this moment of time…Alex is a thinker. He’s cerebral…His work has always stood out.”
– Prof. Curtis Willocks
“I was feeling distressed and wanting to call it quits and go home, but I didn’t. This was history happening all around me and it didn’t matter if I was scared I had to document it,” he says.
We stand at a crossroads and never in my lifetime have I felt the critical need of the media and visual storytellers to portray our nation with calm, dignity and truthfulness. Alex’s work represents an approach that I hope we see more of.” – Ed Kashi
The following night Golshani went to the protest rally that started in Union Square and marched to Trump Tower.
“There were thousands of people on Fifth Avenue. Many had signs and were chanting. People wanted their opposition to be heard. Many were climbing scaffolding and lamp posts.”
Golshani says that at FIT he explored many “applications” of photography. “My work evolved a lot in four years. I had the benefit of some great professors who informed my many interests.”
“I admired him from Day One,” says Prof. Willocks. “He’d go out and experiment on his own with different cameras, with different film. We’d take the train to 42nd Street. Even on that short trip he’d be photographing. When I think of Alex Golshani I think of a Leica camera. He always had one around his neck. He knows his stuff.”
Golshani says he has been photographing protests since Occupy Wall Street in 2011. “The protests I have documented have been about issues like the economy, police brutality, women’s rights and even protests for food purity. Making pictures has been my way of contributing.”
“I think this series is a time capsule of how people were feeling about certain issues. Today they mean one thing, in 40 years they may have a different meaning”says Golshani, who plans to do related works on the upcoming inauguration and the Women’s March on Washington.
To see more of Alex Golshani’s work or to purchase “9/11” go to: Alex Golshani Photography
The photographic work and opinions expressed by Alex Golshani are his own.
All images used with permission.