35 Views of the Capitol
The Capitol building is not visible from everywhere in D.C. but its presence is constantly felt. From under the dome comes our laws, our culture clashes, our history, and our future as a nation. Every so often these jurisprudential and philosophical aspects of the Capitol give way to the more, well, pedestrian, when streets are closed during protests, rallies, and motorcades.
As I walk the streets of D.C. photographing I keep thinking of Katsushika Hokusai’s series of ukiyo-e woodcuts, Thirty-six Views of Mt. Fuji. In Hokusai's vision the sacred mountain is eternal and indifferent to the world of people. While the Capitol, as a physical presence, feels indifferent as Mt. Fuji. Because the Capitol is a human construction we imbue it with layers of meaning. It’s a symbol of freedom that was built, to a large extent, by slaves. It’s a hallowed place that’s found on on t-shirts, key-chains, and hats in every tchotchke shop in the District. From reverence to scorn the deeper meanings of the Capitol are what we project on to it.
The U.S. Capitol Building is what it needs to be, for everyone.