Monday, January 05, 2009

Gallery Patrons Throw Shoes at President Bush

It appears that more shoes have been thrown at President Bush-- only this time the target was hit. The art event took place during the opening of a small gallery in Ashland, Oregon. Visitors to the MAda Shell Gallery made donations to the gallery in exchange for taking a shot at an 8-foot image of George Walker Bush.

The shoes, provided by gallery owners Eric Navickas and Amy Godard, were thrown at the image after being painted red. Godard stated that the exhibit was intended to be a “statement of solidarity” in order to show support for Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi who was arrested after taking two shoe-shots at the President during a recent Baghdad news conference.

I‘m certain that other works involving Bush and shoes will pop up this month. The only question I have about this specific project is-- why the red paint? What does it symbolize… does it represent blood? Bush’s blood? Al-Zeidi’s blood? --apparently he was beaten after the incident-- or does it represent the blood of those who have died in Iraq? Maybe it was just a way to collect donations with no other symbolism attached? What say you?

In closing I must say that we in the United States should respect the fact that exhibits of this manner exist. I think we often take for granted the fact that we can express ourselves in this way-- we tend to forget that there are many people throughout the world who do not share that same type of freedom.

Art and sole: Patrons pitch shoes at Bush image

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin
Senior Editor


Unknown said...

Perhaps the red paint represents all blood shed as a result of the Bush Legacy. I'm including our soldiers, journalists, as well as the millions of civilians and combatants too.

The shoe is a great metaphor for distaste. I think we won't see this expression go away any time soon, as is evidenced in many articles around the world in protest to many of the tragedies this world is facing.

In response to that "Freedom" you are speaking, technically under certain newer laws, this type of art or exhibit can be considered the works of enemy combatants. I think it naive to suggest that we have "such freedoms" when we have a government chip chip chipping away at all of our civil liberties. But perhaps this is the bigger message.

Balhatain said...


"I think it naive to suggest that we have "such freedoms" when we have a government chip chip chipping away at all of our civil liberties"

I don't think it is naive to suggest that we in the United States have freedoms that many in the world do not. In many countries you can't express your opinion about officials in a negative way. In fact, in some you would risk death.

True, our civil liberties are often under attack by the individuals we elect. The Democrats and Republicans are both guilty of that. That is why it is up to us to make our opinion known. Again, in many countries you would not have that option.

It is easy to pick away at the negative actions that our government has taken. We should place those actions under a scope. We should demand change when it is needed. However, I don't buy into the 'US only does wrong and is the cause for all the problems on Earth' mentality that is so popular today.

If you look at history you will find that many countries have a very bloody history. Many of the countries that are critical of the US have at one point tried to dominate the world. That does not mean that we should let things slide when they happen-- but we should put things in perspective.

Mark B (The) said...

^From the point of view of America.

On average, as a human race -- you could say that the social injustice that America and its capitalist rampage for further and further monetary advancement unsettles smaller nations in such ways that things get worse overall.

I mean: When we have Bush refusing to withdraw from the middle east, because oil is too valuable a resource to allow into anyone's hands but western oil corporations -- I think we can see some motive there.

Our nations are acting as peacekeepers who can see no further than the silk lining of their pockets.

I think that it's hard not to criticize, when we look at how decisions are perverting what greater men have established.

Balhatain said...


"^From the point of view of America."

No, from the point of view of world history. As I made clear, I'm not saying that the US government has made good calls as of late. That said, I do think that people need to think about their own countries past before making the US look like the only 'bad guy' that has ever existed on the face of this planet-- which is the impression you get when reading some of the comments that have been made about the US in recent years. In some cases longer.

However, I also know that Spain, England, Portugal, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, Turkey,Italy, China and a number of other countries have ALL tried to dominate natural resources, trade, and the land of others at one point or the other. Just as I know that some countries today would be doing far worse to the world if they had the same resources as the US.Again, I'm not giving the US slack-- I'm just thinking rationally on the basis of world history.

That is a key problem today. It is popular to not like the US. The problem being that people who are critical of every step the US makes often do not have a working knowledge of world history. For example, ask people today about Spain and they most likely will not be aware that at one time Spain had a thirst for conquering the world and dominating trade at that time.

My point is that the US is not the first power to use wealth and military/naval might to unsettle "smaller nations in such ways that things get worse overall.". Humans have a history of doing that.It is a part of our nature that may never be corrected. That does not mean it is right. We should be critical-- but we should not forget the past either.

Again, I'm not suggesting that the actions of the past make the present actions by the US acceptable. However, I think we all need to realize that the US is not the only one with bloody hands. The US is not the only power with a stranglehold on wealth and resources. One could say that some of the issues we have today with resources has happened due to the actions of various world powers throughout history-- including the US.

Most of those powers had to have their military and navy reduced to nothing before stopping. In all cases another country steps up to the plate when the top dog no longer has the same influence on the world. It is a cycle if you think about it. A cycle that has walked hand-in-hand with civilization from the start by the hands of those in control.

Thus, I see the problems we are facing as a collective failure that has been going on for centuries. I don't see that puzzle being solved anytime soon. However, the ability for people to make statements without fear of being punished is crucial for attempting to solve these problems on a global scale.

My point-- I see a lot of protests against the policies of the US, but I often wonder why people don't stand up against the policies of other governments that block freedom to the point of executing someone simply because they don't follow the religion supported by the government,and so on.It is a very hypocritical situation.

For example, there have been worldwide protests against the US government and military due to torture tactics that have been used-- People should voice out against issues like that. However, the question remains-- why have we never seen that same kind of energy spent on making a global stand against governments that allow civilians to be beat for something as simple as a traffic violation? I could go on.

josephbolstad said...

Back to the artwork, will this piece continue to have any relevance in a few short weeks? I guess I have trouble seeing the point in preaching the same tired old sermon to the choir.

Balhatain said...

Joseph, good question. It is hard to say. There has been a lot of art created with Bush as the focus-- will that continue once he is out of office? Will political art become positive once Obama is in the White House? In the end will it matter either way?

Anonymous said...

well, I grew up in the town in which this took place and it's safe to say that it's a pretty safe place to make and exhibit this kind of work. The kind of place where this could be received without the repercussions of, say, the man who threw the shoes at Bush in the first place. In a sense I think the artists are a little out of context in their little town in the mountains and although this is a genuine attempt at a gesture of "solidarity" I think that is all it is - a gesture. There's a kind of tacky hollowness to the work that's held up by a guise of social practice and art-making. I suppose it never claimed to be otherwise and it could most definitely be purely in jest or taboo for the sake of taboo. I certainly don't think it speaks to freedom, justice, in/equality or social practice. It seems like an ill conceived idea pitched to a liberally blind community to raise money for a struggling art gallery. But that's kind of mean-spirited of me...