Monday, July 1, 2013

Political Projections of Our Puerile Politicos

Dean Liscum

Presidential Head Projections by Jonatan Lopez and Hilary Scullane had a limited run (Friday, June 28th, 9:30 p.m. to may be 11 p.m.) and played to a very exclusive crowd, those riding in June's Critical Mass. Nevertheless, it was (and is) extremely timely.

The piece consisted of Lopez and Scullane projecting looping video of their faces onto one of David Adickes' two-story tall presidential busts. The artists' expressions ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous, dallying in somber-smile stares and then expanding into tongue-wagging, toothy grins.

The images alternated evenly between the two artists (gender equity with their political polemics) and were projected on to only one of the presidential busts, which appeared to be more of a matter of logistics rather than opprobrium for that particular president. A soundscape accompanied the projections. Although, I couldn't quite follow the content (too much echoing and reverb both intentional and not), the dissonance conveyed was disturbing enough.

Except for Wendy Davis doing an Abramovic tribute, I can't think of any more politically au courant art.  (Don't get me wrong, Coming Through the Gap in the Mountain on an Elephant at TSU's University Museum is politically timeless, and runs through August 25, 2013.)

Lopez and Scullane's snarky, tongue-wagging is pitch perfect with the Obama administration's defense of the NSA surveillance program. Their denial-justification plays out like an adolescence who's been caught.
We're only kind of spying on you. 
Everyone else is doing it. 
It's OK when I do it. Really! It's for your own good. Because I'm a good guy. I'm special and that makes it different
No really, just because I ignored and\or persecuted all the other whistle blowers doesn't mean I will you. That's just not fair to me. You're not giving me a chance to change."
The administration's disclaimers matched up with the artists' alternately wry and ridiculous facial expressions punch through the political pablum. (A mash-up with press conference sound bites would have been really cool, but perhaps a little too explicit...after all, the eyes and ears of the NSA are upon them and you and me.)

This video of the President Head Projections doesn't do the performance justice, but it's better than nothing.

For me, PHP was a poignant, political-artistic moment in the midst of a party. I wasn't expecting it; I was momentarily captivated by it, and then I moved on. I headed over to the food trucks, the drink lines, and the homemade slip-n-slide, because I'd just been on a 2-hour bike ride and the high temperature had been 100 F.

But it was memorable enough to stick with me through the party and the bike ride home.


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