Update: The "Political Sideshow" exhibit, postponed due to Hurricane Matthew, will open with a reception from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 13, at the Schmidt Center.
Kenneth Tin-Kin Hung's colorfully titled video game "#S---WARS: THE S--- AWAKENS" imagines the United States Capitol as a Death Star, Donald Trump as the Joker and Hillary Clinton as Queen Cersei from "Game of Thrones." (Bernie Sanders is costumed as another "Game of Thrones" character, mother of dragons Daenerys Targaryen.)
Hung's video game appears on a flat-screen hanging along the narrow hallway beside the Schmidt Center gallery at Florida Atlantic University. All the pop-culture humor, Internet memes, controversy, anger and division that has come to define the 2016 presidential election cycle is filtered through the university's new exhibit, "Political Sideshow 2016: From 'Bitch' to (Big) 'Nuts' and Beyond." The show, originally slated to open Friday, Oct. 7, has been postponed due to Hurricane Matthew.
"Political Sideshow," the brainchild of FAU professors Jane Caputi and AdrienneRose Gionta, assembles a tapestry of political bumper stickers, posters, T-shirts, buttons and baseball caps. Gionta, an adjunct professor, has been painting the building's hallway in red, yellow and blue stripes to resemble "a circus tent." There are Hillary nutcrackers (slogan: "It's crunch time, America!"); a "Make America Mexico Again" trucker hat; a Trump bumper sticker (slogan: "I have serious balls"); and a Hillary sticker ("Socialist hag"). Gionta says Caputo, along with some students, snapped up the political ephemera from a handful of websites.
"It feels like people are entering a fantastical sideshow of political candidates," Gionta says. "By flashing all of these opinions out there for people to see, I think the general mood people will feel is amusement."
Amusement is the theme of Randy Burman's satirical artwork "Vent-o-Matic," in which 54 caricatured faces of GOP congressmen and candidates are attached to a chain-link fence, set next to a table covered in old shoes. Participants are asked to throw a loafer and bean their least favorite politico. Meanwhile, Jamilah Sabur and Veronica Mills' digital print "Frankenstein" depicts Frankenstein's monster next to a photo of Trump, his face frozen midshout.
"It's going to be a noisy installation," says W. Rod Faulds, FAU's gallery director. "I think that, on the one hand, it's a corollary to all of the noise that comes from Donald one day and Hillary the next. It's repetitive and a little obnoxious. It's just endless name-calling."
At the Wolfsonian-FIU in Miami Beach, the "The Politics of –Isms" plunges into political history with an exhibit of 32 cartoons, magazines and propaganda pamphlets meditating on communism, fascism and socialism in the 1930s. American artists attacked newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, who published sensational stories against Asian immigration, in a handful of pamphlets on display.
One pamphlet, "Why Hearst Lies About Communism," depicts Adolf Hitler and Hearst as vampire bats whose wings form a swastika. Labeling politicians as communists or fascists is nothing new, argues Frank Luca, the Wolfsonian's chief curator, who says the 1930s are full of parallels to present-day polemics.
"Political Sideshow 2016: From "Bitch" to (Big) "Nuts" and Beyond" was postponed due to Hurricane Matthew but will open later in October at Florida Atlantic University's Schmidt Center, 777 Glades Road, in Boca Raton. "The Politics of –Isms" will close Jan. 22 at the Wolfsonian-FIU, 1001 Washington Ave., in Miami Beach. Call 305-531-1001 or go to Wolfsonian.org, and call 561-297-2966 or go to FAU.edu/galleries.
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