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Friday, August 27, 2004

Here Come the Republicans, and the Art is Ready

In today's New York Times Roberta Smith covers the huge amount of overtly political art on display as New York prepares for the arrival of the Republicans next week. From the length of the sidebar that lists all the venues discussed in her piece (the sidebar isn't available on line, unfortunately), I think it would be possible to spend this weekend doing nothing but looking at art--and getting righteously indignant at the same time.

Smith's article highlights a small show called "Republican Like Me" at Parlour Projects in Williamsburg. When discussing this show, Smith focuses on Rachel Mason's plaster sculpture Kissing President Bush, a color photo of which is given all the space above the fold of today's Fine Arts section.

I saw the show last Sunday and was sorry to see that Smith didn't mention one of the artists in it, Esperanza Mayobre. Through the magic that she works, Mayobre has gotten the U.S. government to forgive the debt of all third-world nations. The leaders of these countries are so grateful to her that they have put her picture on their currency. Mayobre's piece consists of photos of a host of third-world leaders saluting her for her good deed and a massive pile of Venezuelan 1000 Bolivar notes with her picture on them.

Since art theft has been on my mind this week, I was tempted to make a trip back out to the show to grab a handful of the bills. I am flying through JFK next Monday, and I was thinking about trying to change them into American cash at a currency exchange booth before I catch my flight. (What are the chances that the people manning these booths know what a real 1000 Bolivar note looks like?) Having dreams of seriously upgrading my stay in Los Angeles, I just went looking for the Bolivar-Dollar exchange rate to see how many bills I would need to nab to be able to check into the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills for the week. It turns out that 1000 Bolivars are worth 52 cents. Maybe I'll try Saturday's Lotto drawing instead.

I first saw Mayobre's work in a group show earlier this year at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She recently finished preparatory work for an installation for a small space in my apartment. I'm hoping that by the time I'm back from the west coast next week she will have been able to install the piece. That, and the fact that the Republicans will be gone by then, would be a nice welcome home after a long trip.

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