November 7 2008 – Sunday January 4 2009

An Exhibition Conceived of Before the Election But Opening After the Election, Which Changes Everything: Mel Chin and Donal Moffett


As the title states, this exhibition was imagined in the weeks before the 2008 Presidential election. The work chosen will be installed the day before the election, though it is scheduled to open to the public three days after theelection.ItwillbeinstalledintheArsLibrigalleryonMondayNovember3rd butinasenseitwillonly ‘receive’ its meaning late the next day, as the election results take shape and history is made. The works themselves were made years ago, under very different circumstances and with very different concerns in mind and might otherwise never find themselves in contact with each other were it not for this exhibition. If politics practices the art of timing, here art is practicing the timing of politics.

Mel Chin’s The Green Light Ahead, is from a series of erasure works Chin made in the late 1990’s. In erasing the

White House and the information on the reverse side of a twenty-dollar bill, Chin transforms an instrument of economic and political power into a landscape of pastoral beauty and calm. In the act of literally removing politics from the setting by erasing the symbol of American politics par excellence (the White House) Chin creates a gaping space for reflection, rest and simplicity – and does so through a criminal act, since defacing currency is unlawful. In erasing the image of power on the note, the note becomes worthless and affirms the aphorism that image is power.

On the wall directly opposite, Donald Moffett’s work Aluminum / J Edgar Hoover FBI Building is comprised of an aluminum painting upon which a slow video of the street in front of the J Edgar Hoover FBI building in Washington DC is looped. Moffett’s Washington Series, from which this work comes, featurs other works depicting a number of famous Washington monuments, including the Watergate Hotel, The FDR monument and other iconic views of the seat of power. These works, and the J. Edgar Hoover building in particular, draw taught lines between the surfaces of power and what is projected onto them, between the silver screen of Hollywood and the theatre of Washington, between the silver screen and the silver-tongued. Image is everything, image is power.

In anticipation of the 2008 presidential election, these two works are hung back-to-back on a wall that cuts through the Ars Libri space. They are, in a sense, two surfaces, like tectonic plates, between which the meaning of the exhibition and the meaning of the political events taking place around them collide and quake.

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