On Saturday (29 January), a non-profit gallery and educational space, Bronx Documentary Centre, will launch a new exhibition titled Storming of the Capitol. Through photography, video and multimedia, the exhibition will examine the events of 6 January 2021, when a mob of between 2,000 and 2,500 Donald Trump supporters rioted and broke into the Capitol Building in Washington, following the election of Joe Biden. The exhibition curators aim to put forth a historical record of these events, in the process “shed[ding] light on the deep cleavages in America”.
Faced with tackling a key event in recent American history – mobs had not overrun the Capitol since the War of 1812 – curators Cynthia Rivera and Mike Kamber aimed to create a setting that offers context to the public. Extensive captions appear alongside audio and video installations, as well as photographs of the day. “The challenge was in making sure the work was not repetitive,” says Mike Kamber. After going through thousands of images from freelance photographers and large news outlets, the curators have selected photographs that detail the events of the riot without overlapping.
“I believe there were different groups of people involved in the storming,” Cynthia Rivera tells us. “Some were more-so there for the ride”, she adds, while “some were there to take back what they feel like is really theirs, by any violent means necessary”. Photos that speak to that “overwhelming chaos” in the exhibition include one from Christopher Lee of a window being smashed by a Proud Boy, and an image from Brent Stirton of the police attempting to keep people out and a man threatening them with a baseball bat and stolen police shield. On the latter, Cynthia states that around the time this photograph was taken, an officer was pulled down the stairs.
The photographers featured in Storming of the Capitol include: Gabriela Bhaskar, Nina Berman, Victor J. Blue, Balazs Gardi, Adam Gray, Shuran Huang, Christopher Lee, Luke Mogelson, and Mark Peterson, among others. The exhibition will run until 20 March 2022 at the Bronx Documentary Centre, South Bronx, New York City.
“It was really hard to tell the severity of that day while watching the news,” says Cynthia Rivera. “It seemed more like the mob was just trying to put on a show, the disbelief of it all almost made it comical. But after seeing the photographs, video and articles that came flooding out days, weeks and months after, we really started to understand just how earnest and grave this surreal moment in history was and is. We’re hoping that that’s what this exhibition does for everyone else.”
Bronx Documentary Centre: Storming of the Capitol (Copyright © Shuran Huang, 2021)
About the Author
Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating from the University of Bristol, they worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, Indie magazine and design studio Evermade.