The Stakes Couldn’t be Higher – 2020

ArtThe Stakes Couldn’t be Higher – 2020
The Stakes Couldn’t be Higher – 2020

The Stakes Couldn’t be Higher – 2020

Mixed media sculpture – fibreglass moulded head, car tyre, buffalo horns, MAGA baseball cap, sunglasses with attached southern rebel flag pins, wind-up metal key, a length of rope and a wooden stool. H190 x W107 x D36 cm

Photographs by Vince Lovecchio

The accompanying text is an extract from Chapter 13 of an as-yet-unpublished illustrated memoir I have written:

As I had created an artwork around the 1992 USA election (, it is useful to make the comparison to my revisiting of this leitmotif. The current threat to the American constitution and the degeneration of the rule of law in the USA over the last four years – demanded an artist’s response. One way or another, the November 2020 elections in the USA will affect the entire world. Australia, as the quasi 51st State of the USA, is directly impacted (eg. by blindly following the USA’s lead on addressing or ignoring climate change/global warming).

Unlike the lighthearted parody in my earlier 1992 USA election painting, I felt compelled to respond aesthetically to this election – in a politically loaded sculpture – that directly addresses the current fascist threat in the USA. More akin to the gravitas I accorded my anti-Apartheid art of the 80’s and 90’s, it specifically recalls the not-too-distant history of the white mob lynching of black Americans in the South – but in a stark racial role reversal.

Sporting typical symbolic paraphernalia – a make-america-great-again baseball cap and fashionable rebel flag pins (on the temples of his dark white-framed glasses), this clean-cut young white man – identifies himself as a GOP Trump supporter. The pair of buffalo horns mounted on the car tyre recall the roughneck frontier cowboy spirit of the Southwest. But, isolated from the herd, this individual’s life is clearly threatened – he is now the lone objectified target – the potential violent end-trajectory of an inverted bigotry. His head is positioned within the circle of the car tyre (reminiscent of necklacing in Apartheid South Africa). A conveniently knotted and ready-to-go noose is positioned around his neck, which forms a secondary circle – and a sturdy stool is provided. Circumstances appear very differently when the shoe is on the other foot – and this ‘mirroring’ gives cause for deep inner-reflection.

Adorned with real buffalo horns, the elephant in the room – is the rise in demand for a national return to the imposition of the death penalty.

On the reverse of the black tyre a warning has been lovingly written in white – indicating the dire consequences of the imminent election – “we will all remember the 3rd of November.”

The key to the work is just that – a wind-up key – inserted into the back of the scarified [red]neck’s white head.



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