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He meant "Character Assassination"
June 4, 2008 11:56 AM   Subscribe

Is it Art? The Assassination of Hillary Clinton/The Assassination of Barack Obama

This morning, a Boston-born performance artist, Yazmany Arboleda, tried to set up a provocative art exhibition in a vacant storefront on West 40th Street in Midtown Manhattan with the title, “The Assassination of Hillary Clinton/The Assassination of Barack Obama,” in neatly stenciled letters on the plate glass windows at street level.
posted by Xurando (73 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Remember when artists made art, instead of headlines?

Yeah, me neither.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:01 PM on June 4, 2008


As the article points out he also launched two websites:

The Assassination of Hillary Clinton.

The Assassination of Barack Obama.
posted by ericb at 12:02 PM on June 4, 2008


Press releases [PDF].
posted by ericb at 12:04 PM on June 4, 2008


Wow, that stuff is bad. The Obama exhibit is particularly awful- nooses? A huge black penis? Really? Really? Ugh. Go away.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:07 PM on June 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Are you seriously asking whether this is art or not? Why would we have any reason to think it's not?
posted by oddman at 12:07 PM on June 4, 2008 [4 favorites]


Just another artist from Boston pissing off the police.
posted by Xurando at 12:07 PM on June 4, 2008


Oh here we go again. Maybe it's art (although it's no more artful than the awful stories in the tabloids, Batboy excepted). If it is art, it is really, really terrible art. Not terrible in the Guernica sense, just really shitty. People like this you should ignore.
posted by Mister_A at 12:11 PM on June 4, 2008


Just another artist from Boston pissing off the police.

An update from Monday: MIT Student In Logan Bomb Scare Gets Probation.
posted by ericb at 12:11 PM on June 4, 2008


And there go that artist's fifteen minutes of fame. Oh how I loathe attention-seekers.
posted by idiomatika at 12:11 PM on June 4, 2008


what TPS said. just gawdawful stuff. the art must have been in tricking a gallery owner to let him hang that utter dreck.
posted by Hat Maui at 12:12 PM on June 4, 2008


The question isn't whether this is art. That battle will never be won.

The question is: Why should the NYT (not to mention MeFi) cover this art? Shock value isn't a good reason.

When religious people say stupid stuff, we delete it under the heading of LOLXIANS. When artists do stupid stuff, we should delete it under the heading of LOLPISSJESUS.
posted by DU at 12:12 PM on June 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


Clearly the artist is just trying to unite Obama and Clinton supporters by giving them something they can both hate together.
posted by drezdn at 12:14 PM on June 4, 2008


Is the building really called ANAVAILABLESPACE (how pomo) or is that part of the exhibit?
posted by rokusan at 12:17 PM on June 4, 2008


John McCain, is that you?
posted by ornate insect at 12:18 PM on June 4, 2008


Once and for all, "Is it art?" and "Is it good art" are not the same question.

As for this, yes and no.
posted by roll truck roll at 12:18 PM on June 4, 2008 [5 favorites]


I think it would be LOLPISSCHRIST.

(LOLBOURGEOISE)
posted by dirtdirt at 12:19 PM on June 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


the worse thing about this to my mind is that it's on MetaFilter.
posted by dawson at 12:19 PM on June 4, 2008


You're of two minds, but at least they're in agreement.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 12:24 PM on June 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


I find it fascinating how the police can justify reacting only to the surface of things.
Like, did they step inside?

I think the more pertinent question is: is this injustice?
posted by tybeet at 12:25 PM on June 4, 2008


You're of two minds, but at least they're in agreement.

actually that was a bit of my avant garde performance art. you philistines you!
posted by dawson at 12:33 PM on June 4, 2008


From the show: "Hillary Clinton has done for the pantsuit what Bill Clinton did for the intern-no matter how many beautiful options are available to her, she's somehow always associated with the most unattractive and unappealing ones."
posted by ColdChef at 12:34 PM on June 4, 2008


And I'm not even sure who this one is supposed to offend more: "Hilllary Clinton: The Antidote to Niggeritis."
posted by ColdChef at 12:35 PM on June 4, 2008


This reminds me of my gallery piece from a few years ago called "I'm going to murder everyone who attends this show: seriously, if you come into this building, I'll find some inventive way of ending your life, possibly with a piece of wire, or maybe acid. Whatever, it's going to be really painful and ugly. Closed casket ugly, if you know what I mean."

Of course, it got shut down before I got to premier it. Stupid fascists. I'm sure it was because they thought the title was too long.

It's a shame too, because I had done some really nice landscapes in oil, and a couple of watercolors of birds that I was particularly proud of.
posted by quin at 12:40 PM on June 4, 2008 [10 favorites]


Is theassassinationofyazmanyarboleda.com available?
posted by JaredSeth at 12:42 PM on June 4, 2008


I agree with dawson. On the one hand, this sucks and who cares. But on the other hand, this sucks and who cares.
posted by rusty at 12:45 PM on June 4, 2008


looking at the Obama site in particular, am I the only one who thinks these installation shots look a little photoshopped? Well enough done job, but still, it all seems a little fake. I refuse to debate the art-worthiness of stuff like this, but I will call out attention seekers and this is what I'm seeing here.
posted by garethspor at 12:50 PM on June 4, 2008


Everything depends on execution
The art of making art...is putting it together!
posted by Bromius at 12:55 PM on June 4, 2008


I agree with dawson. On the one hand, this sucks and who cares. But on the other hand, this sucks and who cares.

Why are you still here then?
posted by tybeet at 12:56 PM on June 4, 2008


The guy's just lucky he wasn't trying to put up one of these in Boston.
posted by Muddler at 12:56 PM on June 4, 2008


Why would anyone assassinate HRC? She's just the junior Senator from New York.
posted by pardonyou? at 12:57 PM on June 4, 2008


The saddest thing is that this is giving the artist publicity. What a fucking tool.
posted by Tlogmer at 1:00 PM on June 4, 2008


Is it art? Of course it is. Whether or not something is morally objectionable, a publicity stunt, and/or stupid has nothing to do with whether or not it's art.

Is it good art? You decide.
posted by greenie2600 at 1:07 PM on June 4, 2008


Is Brad Pitt going to be in that one too?
posted by doobiedoo at 1:11 PM on June 4, 2008


Yeah, this looks like shock art pasted over stock photos of a gallery's interior. None of this stuff is actually hung anywhere, right?
posted by mathowie at 1:18 PM on June 4, 2008


Did the Chapman brothers have an opening in their schedule?
posted by lukemeister at 1:23 PM on June 4, 2008


Why should the NYT (not to mention MeFi) cover this art?

I think the civil rights issues are important.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 1:24 PM on June 4, 2008


The making of.
posted by sour cream at 1:29 PM on June 4, 2008


... which proves that this stuff is in fact, uh, "hung" somewhere.
posted by sour cream at 1:31 PM on June 4, 2008


Is it art?

Is it music?

I'd say the two answers are the same, and equally defensible.
posted by rocket88 at 1:33 PM on June 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


1/2 the world
posted by dydecker at 1:36 PM on June 4, 2008


This is stupid. The "artist" apparently took other people's photo and writing and photoshopped it onto photos of gallery walls.

Find a better way to get back at Daddy, moron.
posted by Pastabagel at 1:37 PM on June 4, 2008


tybeet: Just for the cheap snark.
posted by rusty at 1:40 PM on June 4, 2008


Wow, this guy was from my high school - a year or so ahead, but we were part of the same magnet program and in a few art classes together. I vaguely remember him making a lot of rah rah social justice, system be oppressing us-type imagery. Nice to see he's, uh, developed his style since then.
posted by casarkos at 1:40 PM on June 4, 2008


Everything depends on execution
The art of making art...is putting it together!
Money is NOT a legitimate cerative medium. (Money for expensive photograaphic prints of various sizes, for signs, for vitrines, for vinyl lettering, for renting the space. For paying the electric bill and hiring a professional photographer to 'record' the event...)

Money can make it look good, but if there's no one home, there's no one home and things like this just become poor publicity stunts for the 'creator'.


I thought crap like this went out with the '90's.
posted by vhsiv at 1:57 PM on June 4, 2008


I heard they fixed the toilet on the space shuttle.
posted by Dizzy at 1:59 PM on June 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


No it's not art. Art is a Giant Vulva Taxi.
posted by klarck at 2:00 PM on June 4, 2008


Why can't I say that someone should hurry up and assassinate George Bush? Because it's illegal to say that in the US even on MetaFilter. But, it's not illegal to walk around the streets of Manhattan with a 10 foot long, black plastic cock. Go figure.
posted by Xurando at 2:12 PM on June 4, 2008


dydecker -- let us know when the Secret Service comes calling. The National Threat Assessment Center has been known to even take jokes about assassination seriously.
posted by ericb at 2:18 PM on June 4, 2008


So, can you not juxtapose the word "assassination" and the name of a presidential candidate? Is that illegal? Is it a threat? Was his display an incitement?
posted by rtha at 2:21 PM on June 4, 2008


Some maintain that the U.S. government's Echelon surveillance system scans all sorts of worldwide communication and employs "triggers" sending suspicious communications for review by the NSA, CIA, Secret Service, etc.
posted by ericb at 2:26 PM on June 4, 2008


So, can you not juxtapose the word "assassination" and the name of a presidential candidate? Is that illegal?

A couple of weeks ago FOX Contributor Liz Trotta jokingly wished for the assassination of Sen. Barack Obama. Folks weren't happy. "[The incident]...has been reported [to the Secret Service], they've asked if it was recorded and were pointed to the video of it."*
posted by ericb at 2:30 PM on June 4, 2008


Wow. I've encountered Holocaust jokes in better taste.
posted by schroedinger at 2:31 PM on June 4, 2008


One of many examples:
"In the latest of a series of threats at St. Tammany Parish schools, a Mandeville High School student was arrested Monday after saying he was going to blow up the campus and kill the president of the United States, authorities said."*
posted by ericb at 2:33 PM on June 4, 2008


The subject of this guy's art exhibit is "The assassination of HRC" - it's not an incitement to violence, it's just taking assassination as its subject: exactly the same as this documentary here. I can't see why that would be illegal.

As for me personally, note to the secret service: I have never been to the US and don't plan on going, so I am out of your jurisdiction & can wish what I want ;p
posted by dydecker at 2:33 PM on June 4, 2008


BTW -- tomorrow marks the 40th. anniversary of Robert Kennedy's assassination.

RFK Assassination Sparked Secret Service Change
"The U.S. Secret Service came into existence nearly 150 years ago, but the agency as it's known today was essentially created June 5, 1968 — the night Sen. Robert F. Kennedy was shot at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.

Kennedy had several bodyguards with him, including football star Roosevelt 'Rosey' Grier, as he addressed a crowd gathered to support his bid for the White House. But there were no Secret Service agents present because before 1968, their services weren't afforded to presidential candidates.

That policy changed after Kennedy's assassination....
posted by ericb at 2:38 PM on June 4, 2008


Yeah, I'm not asking about joking (or non-joking) references to actually assasinating anyone. But why is the phrase "The Assassination of [president/presidential candidate]" considered threatening, or an incitement? I get that if you stand on a corner and shout that you want to assassinate [president/presidential candidate], or that you are going to do that, or that someone should do that - well, the cops are going to get called. But this case? I'm very hmmm about this.
posted by rtha at 2:39 PM on June 4, 2008


exactly the same as this documentary here...

BTW -- US Cinemas Reject 'Death of a President' Film.
posted by ericb at 2:40 PM on June 4, 2008


But this case? I'm very hmmm about this.

Yeah, I hear you. Some people are touchy these days.

From the NYT's article in the FPP:
"[Police Commissioner Raymond W.] Kelly was also asked why the artist would be questioned at all. 'Why would we question him?' he responded. 'Well, we want to determine what his motives are. Obviously they could be interpreted as advocating harm to protectees; both of the senators, of course, are now being provided Secret Service protection, that’s why the Secret Service was interested; both of them are federal employees, so, ah, of course it is a concern to federal authorities as it is to ourselves. Our lawyers are researching it and will determine if there are any violations of law; right now he is being questioned.' ...Special Agent Eric P. Zahren, a spokesman for the Secret Service in Washington, emphasized in a telephone interview that the agency did not seek to shut down the show.

'We did not shut down that exhibit or request that anybody else shut it down,' Agent Zahren said. 'This was brought to our attention, we went out there and had a conversation with the individual, but we did not shut it down.'

...Assassination has been the subject of many cultural products, including even a Stephen Sondheim musical, 'Assassins.' But in the post-9/11 context, recent comments touching on assassination during this political season — including references by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton — have hit a nerve, and have been followed by apologies.

The safety of Mr. Obama, the presumptive Democratic Party presidential nominee, has been an issue. When he was assigned Secret Service coverage in May 2007, it was the earliest point in a campaign that a candidate had been given protection. In February, Jeff Zeleny of The Times wrote a Political Memo on the 'hushed worry' on the minds of many Obama supporters; it mentioned how his wife, Michelle Obama, had voiced concerns about his safety.

'Checkpoint,' a 2004 novel by Nicholson Baker, purported to plumb the thoughts of a would-be presidential assassin. In 2006, a British digital-television station commissioned a 90-minute film, 'Death of a President,' about the aftermath of a fictional assassination of President Bush by a sniper."
posted by ericb at 2:47 PM on June 4, 2008


[few comments removed - if you need to discuss what is and is not okay to say on MeFi re: assassination, go to MetaTalk or email please.]
posted by jessamyn at 2:57 PM on June 4, 2008


ericb: Some maintain that the U.S. government's Echelon surveillance system scans all sorts of worldwide communication and employs "triggers" sending suspicious communications for review by the NSA, CIA, Secret Service, etc.

What kind of triggers?
Do you mean keywords, such as North Korea, nuclear weapons, uranium, Iran, all used in the same sentence?
posted by sour cream at 2:59 PM on June 4, 2008


In the late '90s shortly after the rumors of Echelon's existence, my buddy and I used to send email back and forth that contained tons of flag worthy words like: bomb, anthrax, assassin, covert, Russian, etc. We would then include a block of PGP encoded text that would typically, if decoded, read something like:

What's up? I was thinking about seeing a movie this weekend. You in? Gimme a call.

Hey, Feds! How much did it cost you to flag, find, and decode this? Was it worth it?


We were idiots.
posted by quin at 3:20 PM on June 4, 2008


From the NYT piece:
Nonetheless, he said the Secret Service asked him if he would voluntarily take down the exhibition title from the window.

“I’m renting that space; the space was allocated for an exhibition and it’s my right to put those words up,” he said. “They said it could incite someone to do something crazy, like break the window. It’s terrible, because they’re violating my rights. If someone breaks a window, they’re committing a crime.”
(emphasis mine)

And... um... exactly what rights are they violating?

I believe free speech is our most valuable right, and I'm actually a fan of art that uses sensationalism and shock to get a point across, but the artist lost all credibility as soon as he uttered those words. I honestly don't think he had any point to begin with, and made up the whole "it's about media character assassination" bullshit immediately after saying to some friends: "you know what would be funny?"
posted by vertigo25 at 4:32 PM on June 4, 2008


From the show: "Hillary Clinton has done for the pantsuit what Bill Clinton did for the intern-no matter how many beautiful options are available to her, she's somehow always associated with the most unattractive and unappealing ones."

The Anna Wintour sign off attached to that quote would refer directly or indirectly to this. I can't find anything online that says she actually penned that quote you are referring to anywhere outside of the artist installation—it's not from any editorial or interview I can google—but regardless it changes the context of that quote a bit.
posted by Weebot at 4:40 PM on June 4, 2008


Later, Mr. Arboleda, who is 27, said in an interview: “It’s art. It’s not supposed to be harmful. It’s about character assassination — about how Obama and Hillary have been portrayed by the media.” He added, “It’s about the media.”
Going through the two websites highlighting his exhibit, I don't understand these statements. At what point has the media--and by media, I'm assuming the MSM; maybe that's not a valid assumption?--portrayed either candidate in any way even remotely resembling the way they're depicted in the exhibit? I'm pretty sure I would have noticed if e.g. a 17 foot long black cock made the rounds on CNN and FOX.

Given the disconnect between his own assessment of his art, and the pieces themselves, I'm going to go with disingenuousness, which then relegates his work into the realm of simplistic shock-value art. So, you know. Fail.
posted by Brak at 5:33 PM on June 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is one of those cases of, ignore it and it will go away. If he actually has anything to say he'll recognize, "OK, this got some shock-value press, but everyone hated the work..." and change his tactics. If not, people will stop paying attention because there's a lot of good art out there, the bulk of it by people who have found a better way to get back at Daddy.
posted by From Bklyn at 2:19 AM on June 5, 2008


It's civilised the ignore, barbaric to silence.
posted by The Monkey at 2:38 AM on June 5, 2008


"It's about the media."

Christ, what an asshole. This is the artistic equivalent of the "I'm not touching you! I'm not touching you!" thing that kids do to one another, and roughly as mature.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 5:33 AM on June 5, 2008


This is bullshit, and it's bullshit that they made him take it down. How many people think that Mapplethorpe or Finley or hell, even Rothko or Picasso or Monet or Mondrian aren't artists? The artist in question here didn't DO anything punishable. He didn't yell fire in a crowded theater, he didn't bring guns to the candidates' debate, he didn't hurt anyone. This kind of unpopular speech is what we are supposed to be protecting. Whether you personally think it's art or not is not the point.
posted by fiercecupcake at 6:36 AM on June 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Tossing in a slightly dissenting opinion here, but primarily because a past project was occassionally painted with a similar brush. I think most of us would agree that "provocation" is an acceptible tool for artists to use in any media, as long as "provocation" isn't the entire artistic reason for the work (whether or not this piece of art meets that test is a valid critique IMHO.)

I'd argue, though, that the title of work doesn't constitute inciting assassination: people tried to argue the same thing about film, which treated Bill Gates assassination as "something that happened in the past" as a way to exploring the topics of conspiracy theory thinking and distrust of the police and authorities. Fox News tried to make the argument "Art or Junk?" and accused us of similar incitement. Nothing ended up happening to Mr. Gates. The worst that happened was some irregularities in a few Asian stock markets, and that was the work of a fan remixing.

Shock alone doesn't turn art into junk, but neither does it turn junk into art. Frequently, though, it's meant to start conversations ... perhaps like these.
posted by bclark at 7:03 AM on June 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Frequently, though, it's meant to start conversations ... perhaps like these.

True, although we are not discussing the "media's" "assassination" of political figures, we are for the most part discussing how much of a pud this kid is.
posted by applemeat at 8:23 AM on June 5, 2008


True, although we are not discussing the "media's" "assassination" of political figures, we are for the most part discussing how much of a pud this kid is.

Which means the artist might have failed in their attempt to stimulate a different dialog :) I'm just less convinced that the guy is a pud by default, even though he might still be a pud.
posted by bclark at 9:00 AM on June 5, 2008


I haven't read the whole thread, but looking at the website photos of the "installations" I can tell they are fake. Yes, photoshop. The space shown in at least one of the photos is Mary Boone Gallery, but the shadows on the work are pure photoshop. I recognize a few of the spaces as different big galleries in Chelsea.
posted by JBennett at 10:13 AM on June 5, 2008


There is still art that can move you, but I sort of lost faith in the process somewhere between Rothko and Koons.

Art seemed like a commoditized mass industry now (©Murakami), like fashion labels made in China that are owned by corporations, sold to the middle class not as a cheap factory produced baubles but delicate affectations of wealth. Or in this case, a performance similar to a bikini handstand on the beach.

At least the bikini handstand is fun. This is wince-inducing.
posted by plexi at 12:31 PM on June 5, 2008


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