As we descend into a heart of darkness, the inauguration of an ominous cloud hovering over the nation’s capital, a million hopeful souls converged to lift us, at least momentarily, out of the gloom. We have seen already, in previous times of crisis, the resilience of the human spirit to overcome political adversity. Over and over and over in our turbulent history, America has been confronted with disruption, violence, war, and tyranny, but somehow, as if by some kind of divine intervention (no I am not going religious here), the people of this country have been able to muster whatever forces they can to step back from the edge of the abyss.
Heaven help us: the world is spinning and imploding at the speed of light. We thought the post-9/11, Bush-Cheney, Season in Hell of disinformation & eternal war & economic apocalypse would be our demise. But oh no, we somehow managed to pull back from the edge of the abyss without a moment to spare.
In a world swirling with threats, from climate change to nuclear armageddon to terrorism, there is no doubt that the greatest threat of all, with the looming TRUMP presidency, is the annihilation of truth. Throughout the 2016 Presidential Campaign came an implosion of disinformation, propagated by a candidate with absolutely no regard for facts, a candidate who scripted his “Make America Great Again” pseudo-campaign as a new chapter in an unfolding reality serial drama. TRUMP’s rise to power was ALL SHOW, a total performance, a sleight-of-hand, and a masterful execution of the suspension of disbelief, which (in part) secured the election by hypnotizing and seducing the forlorn and the forgotten. And now we prepare ourselves, just six days before the DAY, for a somber gathering on the National Mall as TRUMP leads a Requiem Mass for democracy.
The demarcation between viewer and object, spectator and media, audience and the experience of art, is subject to many different interpretations and approaches. However, I believe, and I hope, that the design of museum/gallery walled space might have more opportunity to give way to the amorphous, “all-over,” enveloping display of wonder and being surrounded and wrapped, such as in the work of Pipolotti Rist. The experience of art, like life itself, dazzles when set loose by the simulation of a 3-dimensional world in its totality, rather than as neatly arranged objects constrained and separate from their viewer. At least that is how Rist seems to see it, in her recent exhibition Pixel Forest at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York.
TRUMP Tower extends high in the Manhattan skyline, a radioactive transmitter broadcasting and redirecting an unceasing torrent of incoming and outgoing signals instantaneously and simultaneously, with lethal effect. This is the fulcrum, ground-zero, and the mis-en-scene for the 24/7 chatter of deafening noise that is circulating the globe faster and faster and faster, reaching such a terrifying speed that it threatens a world neurological meltdown. TRUMP has control of all the channels, like a spoiled child who has grabbed the remote, aiming it sporadically, impulsively, and dangerously in every direction at everyone and no one.
“The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation.” – George Orwell, 1984
Look deeply into those vacant eyes, that empty smile: they tell you everything and nothing. Kellyanne Conway, Stepford Wife par excellence and the newly appointed Minister of Post-Truth for TRUMP CORP, is the face of the Orwellian construction of dark subterfuge that is draining, not the swamp, but the remaining authenticity of truth from American democracy.