An exhibition of contemporary art prints at the New York Public Library has created a mild stir. The NY Times has reported that a number of library patrons have protested because of a series of 8 digital prints in the “Multiple Interpretations” exhibition called “Line Up.”
The Line Up series by Nora Ligorano and Marshall Reese depicts people from the Bush administration in fake mugshots. The slates that they hold have the dates of lies or exaggerations about Iraq spoken by the holder. For example, President George W Bush in his State of the Union address on January 28 (my birthday!), 2003, reported, “Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa…. He clearly has much to hide.”
“It is at first mildly shocking to come upon such bluntly partisan artwork on a New York Public Library wall. Biting political satire is deeply a part of printmaking history — see Goya, James Gillray and Daumier — but handmade prints are no longer a significant form of political communication, and we don’t expect anything so brazenly tendentious in the public library context.” New York Times
My opinion on the situation is that politics and art don’t happily mix, but I do love a good political cartoonist. I think artists should have the right to say things that are political though, without it costing them their freedom. Most political art has a very short shelf life, just like the politicians they depict. The best way to make political art live a little longer is to hire a bunch of protestors to march at the exhibition or to have the artist put in prison.
See also the George Bush paintings.