The Stakes Couldn’t be Higher – 2020/2024

ArtThe Stakes Couldn’t be Higher – 2020/2024
The Stakes Couldn’t be Higher – 2020/2024

The Stakes Couldn’t be Higher – 2020/2024

Mixed media sculpture – fibreglass moulded head, car tyre with handwritten text, an orange fridge magnet number 5, 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

The then threat to the American constitution and the degeneration of the rule of law in the USA over the four years of Trump’s Presidency demanded an artist’s response. One way or another, the November 2020 elections in the USA had a global impact. So too, perhaps to an even greater extent, will the 2024 elections potentially change the equilibrium of world politics. Australia, as the quasi 51st State of the USA, will be directly impacted. We too face a forthcoming election in 2025 and similar threatening consequences from the populist and Nationalist Christian right.

In a subconsciously prescient manner (this was created before November 2020) I attached a pair of buffalo horns to the car tyre, which recalls the roughneck frontier cowboy spirit of the Southwest. I was startled (and thrilled) to see a real life re-enactment of my work on an individual (now serving gaol time) who very prominently formed part of the insurrectionist mob in the Capitol on January 6th 2021.

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 in this sculpture.

More akin to the gravitas I accorded my anti-Apartheid art of the 80’s and 90’s, this sculpture recalls the not-too-distant history of the white mob lynching of black Americans in the South – but in a stark racial role reversal. In my work I have isolated him from the herd; now clearly threatened – he is 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.

On the reverse of the black tyre a warning has been lovingly written in white cursive – indicating the dire consequences of the then imminent election – “we will all remember the 3rd of November” – now modified to include the 5(th) November of the USA election to be held this year (2024).

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

Photographs by Vince Lovecchio



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