Sunday, July 20, 2008

The big Fuss: Who Killed Barack Obama?

Once again, Peter Fuss (remember his "For the Laugh of God"?) manages to poke the finger in the right spot.
His most recent work, exhibited at the Out Of Sth exhibition in Wrocław (Poland) (which also has blu's animation on display) plays on our sense of reality.
What I like most about this work is something I didn't notice at first. The first reading, to me, was simple: knowing the fate of the liberal Americans who came to positions of power, it is difficult not to think of the risk Obama is facing. This also might be seen as a cool and lucid way of looking at politics. Can any ideal manage to survive? Isn't Obama, the Obama we know as fighting for "change", somewhat dead, already? Who killed him?
But what I really like about this work is not this seemingly political message. It is the way it portraits us and our own patterns of looking at reality.

The problem is not that Obama may get killed. The problem is our thinking of it as a fact. It is not Fuss's work that is cynical. We are.
Seeing the work on a billboard makes it even more obvious: we take it for granted that things are the way they are, and even if they aren't, too bad for the facts. The billboard is there, so Obama is dead. Who killed him? Guess who.

update/ps: A couple of months ago an Israeli designer created a shirt with a similar text. I think the differences between the two projects prove my point. Having/seeing this on a T-shirt and seeing it on a billboard are two completely different experiences. (Not to mention the completely different level of design). And that's what sets apart a good artpiece from a, well, another one. (Also notice the context - one is set in NY, the other- in Wrocław). Suffice it to say that already a few days after the opening of the exhibition two French tourists entered the gallery (you can see the entrance to the right on the second picture) saying they haven't had the chance to follow the news and they were quite terrified. Now, just to add another level of artsy-fartsy commenting, the person attending them answered they weren't to worry because it was "just an art installation". Ouch, now that's not what I would call effective art guidance. Or what she being ironic?