Spurred by Super PAC, Contemporary Art Protests American Politics During 2016 Election Season
This week, we’re looking at art that takes aim at injustice and disrupts mainstream thinking about politics in America. To spark conversations about social and racial issues and encourage deeper political engagement, American artists Hank Willis Thomas and Eric Gottesman had the brilliant idea to form the super PAC (political action committee) they call For Freedoms. Flush with funds, the PAC is distributing political art as advertising during the 2016 election season.
Billboards, banners, and posters, newspaper and magazine ads, and website banners feature the images pictured here. If you want to see them all in one place, visit the For Freedoms exhibition at Jack Shainman Gallery through August 5. Artist Dread Scott created the controversial flag that flew briefly just outside the gallery door. The text on the banner reads: “A MAN WAS LYNCHED BY POLICE YESTERDAY.” Referencing a flag flown in 1936 outside the N.A.A.C.P. headquarters after a lynching in Georgia, Scott’s work protests violence against black citizens, pointing to the increasing number of cellphone videos that witness police shootings in America.
According to the super PAC website, For Freedoms proposes a contemporary reading of American artist Norman Rockwell’s paintings of U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms from 1941. The project aims “to subvert a ‘Rockwellian’ nostalgia for a ‘simpler’ America while co-opting a visual language that is accessible to a wide audience of viewers.” Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms were freedom of speech, freedom to worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.