Artist Martha Wilson talks about her political performance art and why she took on the guise of Republican candidate Donald Trump during the 2016 United States Presidential election season. Wilson is a pioneering feminist artist known for her politically charged photography, video and performance work. She’s also founder of Franklin Furnace, an artist-run performance and exhibition space in New York City. Listen to this episode to learn how America’s Culture Wars* have sparked her political satire for decades and hear the artist’s impersonations of Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, Tipper Gore, and Donald Trump.
*The Culture Wars: When it comes to freedom of expression, conflicts between conservative and liberal values in countries around the world seem to have intensified since the 1990s. Each of us has at least one story to tell about an encounter with cultural conflict. Either from a challenge to your personal creative practice, witnessing a controversial performance, hearing about censored art in the news or reading case studies in an art history course, we’ve learned that culture wars are a universal experience.
Deepening cultural conflicts in America are central to the 2016 U.S. election in which the presidential candidates’ values are in stark opposition. Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton is a liberal, a feminist, and the first female presidential candidate in American history. Republican Donald Trump. ClintonTrump is a conservative with a narrow view of human rights, especially with regard to women, blacks, and ethnic groups.
Sound Editor: Guney Ozsan | Images are video stills from the following performances:
Nancy Reagan, Oracle performance series at Exit Art, New York, 1985, Video by Susan Britton and Julie Harrison
Barbara Bush, Upstream Arts, Staten Island C.T.V, March 11th, 1991
Tipper Gore, Tacoma, WA, April 16, 1994
Barbara Bush, Avant-garde-arama at PS122, May 10, 2008