Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Barack Obama and Art

The Obama pictures

When Presidential candidate Illinois senator Barack Obamas staff arrived at the gallery to check out the space before an upcoming event, they decided that two of the paintings in the gallery had to go. One was actually removed and the other picture was covered with a tarp. They were hopping not to have Mr. Obama associated with theses pictures, because for them, something was inappropriate about them for the occasion. The occasion was of course Obama speaking in an art gallery where artist works hung on the wall to be appreciated and possibly sold.

What Obamas handlers did not understand was that there is a causal force working in the universe. That means fore every cause there is an effect, and that actually (or should we say possibly) there is no such thing as randomness. Mr. Obama was meant to speak at that art gallery, and the pictures were meant to be associated with him. And that is the outcome which occurred.

The News on the web picked it up

The web site the Smoking Gun with average daily readership of 74,000 picked up the story. They posted two large images of the pictures in question, and the association began.

Then Matt Drudge of the drudge report picked it up from the Smoking Gun and the story went National. Matt Drudge and his Drudge report are powerful. In their 2006 book The Way To Win, Mark Halperin and John Harris report that:

"Drudge, with his droll Dickensian name, was not the only media or political agent whose actions led to John Kerry's defeat. But his role placed him at the center of the game -- a New Media World Order in which Drudge was the most potent player in the process and a personifications of the dynamic that did Kerry in."[17]

In 2006, TIME Magazine named Drudge one of the 100 most influential people in the world,[18] describing the Drudge Report as:

"A ludicrous combination of gossip, political intrigue and extreme weather reports ... still put together mostly by the guy who started out as a convenience-store clerk."

ABC News concluded that the Drudge Report sets the tone for national political coverage.[19] The article states that:

"Republican operatives keep an open line to Drudge, often using him to attack their opponents."

The New York Times wrote that Republican and Democrat presidential candidates were "working harder than ever to get favorable coverage for their candidates — or unfavorable coverage of competitors — onto the Drudge Report’s home page, knowing that television producers, radio talk show hosts and newspaper reporters view it as a bulletin board for the latest news and gossip.

Poor Obama. By his staff trying to disassociate Obama from the art worked actually sealed the association by bringing national news attention to the censorship. The good news for Jamie Boling's the artist is that it brought him national attention.
Look, even months after the incident people are still writing about it. (The incident happened in May 2007.)

The artist response

This picture gives you an idea of the size of the Britney piece.

"I can understand why a politician wouldn't want to be photographed in front of Britney Spears' crotch," says Boling, "but I wish that Obama would have been more fearful of censorship than the possible fallout of an unfortunate photograph. He could have used the whole thing as an opportunity to defend free speech instead of making a move to cover and remove the painting."

One of the pictures, Jamie Boling's 6'x10' Snake Charmer painting, depicts a special moment in Britney Spears' eventful life, was covered up. It has more recently traveled around as part of the "Just Britney" group show of paintings, drawings, and sculpture by 47 artists inspired by Britney Spears.

Link to The show (well worth checking out)

The other picture:

Jamie Boling's web site: http://www.jamieboling.com/

Jamie Boling's Artist Statement

I am a product of contemporary popular culture. I grew up on Star Wars, Jaws, Easy Rider, posters of Farrah Fawcett, and video games. It was through these early mediated visual experiences that I began to engage fiction and encounter the possibilities of representation. The work that I make captures and catalog the profound and fugitive moments of my cultural experience while it serves as an autobiographical survey of my evolving aesthetic. My work emerges from the study and influence of art-historical models and technical traditions as it confronts contemporary fiction and modern visual forms.

At the heart of my work is the belief that physical materials give an image context through their inherent historical, metaphorical, and linguistic implications. Likewise, images carry their own meaning when filtered through the lens of culture and individual experience. My interests reside in this convergence of material and image.


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