Res, a photographer working and living in Brooklyn, has had a long relationship with the city of New York. Their mother, Barbara, was the manager of construction at Trump Tower and the executive vice president of the Trump organisation for almost 20 years. When the television star, real estate mogul and worryingly idiotic man began his presidential campaign, Barbara became vocal about the flaws of her long-term boss, developing “an oppositional and public stance against Trump and his candidacy”. Unsurprisingly this didn’t go down well with Donald, and this change in their relationship is documented in Res’ latest book, Towers of Thanks, released by London-based publisher, Loose Joints.
Google Barbara Res and countless articles come up where she voiced her opinion of Donald Trump. The Daily Mail wrote how she “says the businessman is ‘absolutely’ capable of sexual assault,” The Independent report her saying “he displayed signs of narcissism three decades ago,” or how she told The Daily Beast that “he’s a supreme sexist”. Barbara’s experience of working with Trump is captivatingly documented by Res, as Towers of Thanks “taps into the superficial, jarring aspects of Trump’s legacy and language,” explains the publisher. “We see his words move from those of effervescent praise to pithy, 140-character condemnation”. The condemnation it refers to is a tweet by the current president stating: “I gave a woman named Barbara Res a top NY construction job, when that was unheard of, and now she is nasty. So much for a nice thank you!” This was back in May 2016, consciously pasted in the book’s design next to a photograph of Barbara by Res at the Women’s March in January this year, holding a sign that read: “I am the woman who built Trump Tower”.
Towers of Thanks displays Res capturing provoking but sensitive photographs of their mother, as well as looking “at how that legacy influenced their family, describing the uncomfortable shifts between political and personal narratives”. The photographer accomplishes this by mixing both archival imagery from the Trump Organisation alongside Res’ own interpretations of Barbara and the Trump Tower building “and of the ways in which photography contributes to myths of power and success”.
Towers of Thanks is available here.
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