I’ll admit to having a biased interest in CNN’s gallery of artworks commissioned for the elections. I recommended a number of the artists for this feature, so it’s fascinating to see who made their final list and who the organization came up with themselves. Judging by the commissions, it appears Bravo’s cancelled Work of Art reality series has more influence on mainstream news media than I would have guessed.
A couple of quick thoughts on the feature:
- It’s surprising that an art commission of this size even exists on a mainstream news media site, so kudos to the CNN staff for doing the work to make that happen.
- The gallery is organized under five main headings: Collective Power; Power of Authority; Power Struggle; Personal Power; and Origins of Power. These basically make sense, but I’m not sure that the art needs a heading more specific than “Power.”
- I find it curious that almost none of the selected artists chose to express a specific political stance and support either the Democratic or Republican platform. The artists I spoke to told me there was no specific editorial direction of that nature on the part of the news organization, which means that the artists themselves decided it was more effective to take a different approach to the elections. I’m not sure what that means about the state of American politics right now, but none of the artists I’ve spoken to think we’re in a good place.
- I’m a little bummed that there isn’t a comment section for each artist; what CNN has now is a single comment section for the entire feature. This is a missed opportunity. In my experience, artists and viewers want to talk about art; CNN’s feature doesn’t make that easy.
- Most of these works could use captioning information, so we have a better sense of what materials were used and their original size. That information would tell us how easy it is to read William Powhida’s piece IRL, or just how ominous the fish in Molly Crabapple’s painting actually were.
- Standout artists: Liz Magic Laser, Jen Dalton, Noah Fischer, Joe Hollier and William Powhida, who mysteriously gets an entire section to himself. (And no, I didn’t recommend all the artists I’m naming, just most of them.)
- Why didn’t Zdenko Krtic show his videos, rather than the four mixed media stills he made from them? The quartet of images he’s posted doesn’t even line up properly in the center, and if there’s a political message it’s impossible to know what it is. Given that these are commissions that respond to the election, that’s important missing information.
- Next time, I’d like to see CNN make a few televised studio visits. The company would work with a medium they are known for, and offer artists a chance to engage a new one.