US election Biden Harris
"Shift the culture, end fear", Jenny Holzer. Photo: Mark Rutherford.

NOn November 14, US President-elect Joe Biden conquered the state of Georgia, solidifying his victory over current President Donald Trump. In this way, Biden becomes the first Democratic candidate to achieve a majority of votes in the state since 1992, which projects his victory to 306 electoral votes, while Trump's numbers reach 232. The next US president won't be officially announced until December 14th. On this day, delegates register their vote, which, by custom, obeys the majority of the votes of the population, although an exception to the rule can occur causing what Americans call an “unfaithful vote”.

Although not yet official, the victory of the Biden-Harris ticket has already generated strong reactions. Until last Sunday, November 15, Trump refused to accept his defeat, repeatedly turning to a (false) accusation of electoral fraud that spurred his voters to protest on a march through Washington. For Brazil, as reported by reporter Julia Moura, “Biden's victory, averse to Jair Bolsonaro and critical of the destruction of the Amazon, could shake Brazil-US trade relations at first”.

The political event has since generated reactions in the art world. The Biden-Harris ticket itself launched a campaign inspired by the work Art is… (1983/2009) from Lorraine O'Grady, in which the artist took to the streets of Harlem with an ornate gold frame for the New York African American Day Parade and had participants pose “inside” them. Fifteen white-clad performers helped stage the work, which is now primarily remembered through photographs documenting the event. The president-elect's campaign reproduces a similar picture to capture citizens across the United States. O'Grady — whose work will be the subject of a 2021 Brooklyn Museum retrospective — said he made Art Is… to counter the idea that avant-garde art had little to do with the black community. Alexander Gray Associates, the gallery that represents her, gave permission for the replica, the end result of which generated positive reactions from the artist: “I gave it to them and they gave it back to me”.

For The Art Newspaper, artist Martha Rosler stated: “We have yet to analyze the extent to which governance structures have been damaged and government itself delegitimized – rampantly and constantly – by Donald Trump and the third-rate feeders he has enabled as his breakers”. “In the midst of an intensifying pandemic, the increasingly dire effects of global warming, a multifaceted economic meltdown that affects ordinary people while corporations and billionaires thrive, and an undeniable threat from white supremacists, we are trying to sew our sense back together. fragment of time and being, to prepare for the collective tasks that lie ahead”.

New York Magazine cover featuring work by Barbara Kruger. Photo: Disclosure.

The works of Barbara Kruger and Zoe Leonard also appeared in the virtual environment amid political commentary. Art critic Jerry Saltz recalled a work by Kruger that graced the cover of New York Magazine in 2016. In it, Trump's face is imposed by the word “loser” in English. Leonard once again had his much-referenced work I Want a President (I desire a president) brought to the debate. The visual poem was written in 1992 in response to poet Eileen Myles' presidential candidacy alongside George HW Bush, Bill Clinton and Ross Perot. The text is emblematic of Leonard's involvement with activist collectives in New York in the 1980s, a time marked by heightened political awareness due to the massive loss of the epidemic of HIV / AIDS.

Poem by Zoe Leonard on the High Line in New York, 2016. Photo: High Line.

Artist William Powhida shared an image of his installation Possibilities for Representation (Possibilities for representation), currently on display at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Connecticut, saying, “When I started working on this installation in January, I knew I wanted to create a visual representation of how long the primaries and elections would be in relation to the long history from which they emerged. the candidates. In the installation timeline, centuries take up the same time as decades, then years, then months, and then election day. I am deeply relieved that my decision to give Joe Biden and Kamala Harris a very subtle edge in this glacial presidential race was made by some 74 million voters.” Despite the relief, Powhida notes that "as good as the victory seems at the moment, my relief is tempered by the troubling realities that await us on the other side of the certification of the election and the inauguration of the president." Such a balance was also made by artist Sue Coe, who reiterated: “It is not exactly a revolution 4 to 5 million Americans voted for Biden-Harris and rejected fascism by a thin margin, but our electoral system still benefits cruel lords and aggressors. The fight goes on…".

Mexican Pedro Reyes highlighted Biden's gun record as a positive, stating that “while working with grassroots gun control organizations, I learned that Joe Biden twice fought – and won – the NRA. Yet one of our top priorities as a planet is nuclear disarmament. Trump has pledged $1,3 trillion for new nuclear weapons in 2021, I hope this new administration can roll back that contract.”

It is worth noting the work of Grayson Perry, shared by the Royal Academy on Twitter, and the signs of Jenny Holzer, which during the election period took to the streets the words of Stacey Abrams, for example, and now say (as projected at the Detroit Institute of Arts) : “Shift the culture, end fear”.

 

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