Who are Donald Trump's people?
The photographer Simone Lueck—a product of St. Paul, Minnesota, by way of Brooklyn—wanted to find them. So she rode a Greyhound bus deep into the Southern Tier of New York State and got off in the city of Binghamton, which she read had a high percentage of Trump supporters. She found these people by placing an ad in the local newspaper, which itself became amplified into something of a news event ("Local Trump Supporters Needed for Photography Project" read the ensuing headline).
In Lueck's complex pictures, Trump's supporters don't give us what we expect. We see Flo, a 90-year-old woman in horn-rimmed glasses and tweed trousers, with ambivalent hands, a majestic body wave, stray hairs on her cardigan, and a sympathetic wattle. "I still have a hard time understanding that there are Jewish Republicans," Lueck says of Flo, who further confounded the artist by asking if she could deliver a message to the candidate, and endeared herself by driving Lueck to see Binghamton's ornate and defunct Amtrak station. Flo lamented that Binghamton, which used to have three department stores, now has none. That was back when it was a manufacturing center (cigars, computers, shoes, flight simulators), before the end of the Cold War and the ensuing loss of defense-industry contracts.
Lueck's photographs convey that decline, but at the same time, they capture a sort of optimism—a word not usually associated with the candidate. They show that Trump's people are not monolithic, but they are a group with individual quirks: They wear neckties to gather at a bar called Sam's Place on Saturday mornings, and they ornament their homes with stuffed tigers and antique swords or clippings of the Dalai Lama and Yoda. One of them, a bald lawyer with notched lapels and a pink tie, stands in his office before small photographs of neoclassical architecture that embody the sort of muscular grace we assume he seeks to offer clients.
–Words by Eric Konigsberg. See Simone Lueck's photos below: