As the Campaign Comes to a Close, A British Artist's Take on Obama's Iconography
As the Obama-Romney battle tonight reaches its final moments, one of the more-relevant series currently hanging in Washington’s Library of Congress (and traveling to Liverpool’s Walker Art Gallery next January) captures current president Barack Obama’s historic 2008 campaign. “In Seven Days…,” a series of seven silkscreen prints by British portrait artist Nicola Green, was made over six trips to the U.S. beginning from the then-senator’s nomination acceptance in August 2008 through his inauguration in January 2009. Entitled Light, Struggle, Hope, Change, Fear, Sacrifice/Embrace, and Peace, these images focus on key moments and encapsulate their tension within starkly minimal visuals.
As Green told the BBC, “Because I’ve got mixed race boys that look like this guy who was thinking about becoming president, whether or not he won didn't matter to me. Understanding what it takes, what it means to achieve something completely impossible was what really intrigued me about this story. I wanted to record it, distil it, and make a series of visual images that would be relevant for my boys and their generation so they could think about this story, learn from it, and take something for themselves.”
Hands are particularly prominent in the images, a way for the artist to visually reference “communication beyond words,” and in many ways reminiscient of Obama’s trademark gesticular language when speaking to the public. These gestures will likely be observed by many tonight during final election coverage, as audiences, once again surrounding television and computer screens, wait for the final results.
Regardless of outcome, “The things that she captured in that moment continue to reverberate,” commented former Tate curator Mike Phillips. “All those elements: the hope, and the hatred, the expectation, and the delusion. This is the beginning of the story. The story isn’t at an end, and the imagery makes it so that it’s not at an end.”