“AMERICAagh! (a tourist guide to misreading and misinterpreting signs)” is a work in progress towards a possible book. Over the next four years, I will continue to mine media and political landscape as a source for the visual language of dissent, consent, and many other forms of political behavior by ordinary citizens.
This specific project closely follows daily news and unfolding events to produce a growing body of drawings and text pieces. A fieldwork approach is taken to record cues from the cultural and political shifts as they are filtered through the media.The resulting drawings are not meant to deliver a full picture, instead they highlight truncated, exaggerated, or fallen out of context visual ‘quotations’ from the endlessly contested and divided narrative. Satire and humor are a large part of this project’s vernacular.
Fake news is considered an art form to produce text pieces, which look like newsprint clippings, subverting, mocking, or reinforcing real headlines. To give an example, one text piece says: “Alternative facts prove gravity applies only to liberals”. Another one announces: “Prez adds ineptitude to the arsenal of mass distraction.”
In more nuanced and at the same time symbolic ways, drawings inspired by documentary photography are less specific to agendas or ideological leanings. Sad blue faces of crying women are contrasted with sullen faces of older laborers, exuberant young males are seen boasting while others watch on passively.
Constantly oscillating between individual and public scale, these drawings transcribe emotions which do not fit easy slogans, and passions that cannot be exemplified by single images.
As the project continues, its visual vocabulary will be further complicated. Moving from private reactions to political events, social unrest will be analyzed to suss out visual and symbolic elements. Instability, rage, and anarchy will enter its vocabulary through images of fires, burnt tires, or abandoned homes. In the finishing stage the project will address currents of nationalism, and global tensions, and explore largely ceremonial structures of foreign policies. These drawings will pick apart international summits, state visits, and other official functions by depicting palace halls, banquets, press conferences, etc. through overlooked details like flags, suits, ties, flowers, document holders, and pens among other things.
While the publication of the book is still in a concept stage, a companion piece has been produced. “ New York, Monday, November 9” is a limited edition offset print, and is both, a response to bellicose rhetoric towards free press, and a reminder of a larger public debate that lies ahead of 2020.