Today I spent a couple of hours with CSPAN, catching up on two important speeches/news conferences of Barack Obama in Europe. The first was a speech he gave in Berlin on Thursday in front of the Victory Column and crowd of 200,000. There in the Tiergarten where I had walked and photographed 13 years ago during my own visit to Berlin, Senator Obama expressed his vision for a hopeful global future.
It was the first time in a long time I smiled at the possibility of being an American who was proud of how the US is viewed by the rest of the world. Amidst chants of “Yes we can!” Obama talked about how America and other countries in the world could work together to remake our future. The world’s future. The faces of the crowd mirrored my hopes of the possibility of an America restored to a past glory that has sadly been diminished under the Bush Administration.
Gone was the propaganda of fear and cowboy diplomacy. Replaced by talk of working together for the future of all of us. After the speech, Obama walked through the enthusiastic throngs, shaking the outstretched hands of those who had been inspired by his words.
On Friday Obama traveled to France and visited President Nicolas Sarkozy at the Elysée Palace where the two of them held a news conference for French and American journalists.
And again, in a place I have walked by many times in Paris, there was a message of hope. A vision of America working with other countries instead of unilaterally to repair and improve the earth and the many of us who live here, not simply a privileged few.
President Sarkozy did his best to contain his enthusiasm for an American Administration that’s goals and point of view looked outward instead of selfishly inward. And again I smiled at the hope of what we could become again.
It has been a challenge to be an American abroad the last seven years. To explain that, no, all Americans did not agree with the Bush Policies of preemptive war, the disregarding of the Geneva Conventions and being the country that uses the most natural resources of any other first world country.
Watching Obama in Berlin and Paris was welcome relief. The world is watching our presidential elections with great anticipation. You can see it in the eyes of the Berliners and Parisians that they too believe that change is possible.
The photograph above is one I made of the Victory Column in Berlin in 1995. And I’ll leave you with another more recent one. It’s from a project I’m working on for a Chicago Advertising Agency. It’s a detail of a beautiful sofa in their lobby. The curves and lines remind me of what I love about photographing women.