I don’t know why I started taking these photographs.
I suspect it was an attempt to mark a moment and to hold onto a feeling.
I didn’t know about Katherine Opie’s polaroids of the Bush era at the time. If I had, I might not have taken these.

On November 4, 2008, Ted—my partner at the time—and I were on a couch watching the election on an old cube of a television. It was the last television that I would have cable on. Ted was wearing a t-shirt with Obama’s face on it. He’d purchased it at a Madonna concert a month earlier. As the excitement of the night mounted, I grabbed my polaroid camera and started taking photos of the screen.

I am Canadian and was in Canada at the time but energy of the night was palpable nonetheless. We wanted to spill out into the street to celebrate but the party was inside the television not outside our window.

Over the eight years that followed, my engagement with American politics ebbed and flowed. Occasionally, I would photograph a screen, typically a laptop or phone. Rarely was I photographing something that was happening. Instead, I was watching clips of things that had happened, searching them out online at my leisure.

I’d always planned to photograph the end of Obama’s Presidency. For years, I knew I needed to save a few Polaroids for that. On January 10, 2017, I watched President Obama’s farewell address alone on my computer screen. After the speech was over, I slid the progress bar on the video back and pressed pause before taking a last few photos.

©Zachary Ayotte