Monday, March 29, 2021

"I was repulsed and even a little afraid (I could easily imagine that the homeowner belonged to a militia group) but also fascinated..."

"... perhaps because he plainly also wanted very much to connect, to declare himself, to put forth his vision as any storyteller would. It also seemed as though he wanted to make people laugh, or at least smile. Because, as the display evolved over time, it became clear that he wasn’t just putting up political signage; he was directing a subtly changing Kabuki entertainment for the neighborhood. Some days you’d go by and the white-guy doll would be wearing a scowling Trump mask; then he’d be himself again. Some days there’d be a huge Trump figure sitting in the driver’s seat of one of the vehicles out front; some days not. One day in the fall, an outer-space creature with glittering green eyes appeared beside the male doll, wearing a Trump 2020 hat; later, the alien returned from whence it came and was replaced by a benign Yoda type, who also supported Trump. A friend who stayed at our house while we were out of town for about a month told us that at one point she saw the male doll and the green-eyed alien embracing; she later said she wasn’t sure she really had seen this—which reminded me of my husband’s impression of the fist pulling back the flag. Something about the tableau actively engaged your imagination and made you think you saw things that weren’t there (or possibly were there, who knows—maybe the alien and the male doll did embrace). Which was, I guess, why I came to enjoy the tableau and to secretly root for its creator. Although the content expressed a political view that I didn’t share, the form was artistic, with art’s inherently apolitical ambiguity...."

From "A Trump Tableau/Politics and art in a Catskill front yard" by Mary Gaitskill (in The New Yorker).

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