New Artist Commissions Debut on CNN

by Paddy Johnson on August 28, 2012 · 2 comments Blurb

Push Poll

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.”
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.)
  7. 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.
  8. 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.


Donald Frazell August 29, 2012 at 11:21 pm

Here are my comment from Artinfo, seems to have gotten me in trouble after years blogging there. Especially about liz”magic” laser.

Todays absurdist self absorbed exhibitionism and arrogant self righteousness when having absolutely no real world knowledge,or paid no dues in earning said knowledge, are quite apparent to anyone who has had a real life.



Wow, nothing but self indulgent, self important, self absorbed
white people. With of course the sole token to make you feel better
about yourselves, and the child who said truth more than all of you

More time was spent on the credits than writing and thinking through this whole “concept”.

How appropo. Come here to the LBC and ask those questions, the most
interracially economically and sexually open place in the country. Or
better not, unless you can ask something an adult would bother with.

Children, ugh. Mine are grown, in more ways than one, this aint it.

I think this Powhida fool is the Chauncey Gardner of our day. too irrelevant to be the Forrest Gump or Little Big Man.

Children are meant to be seen and nor heard. That means, seen working
studying learning. Your opinions will always be self absorbed and
indulgent. Come back after learning the meaning of commitment,
responsibility and sacrifice. Trust no on under 30, or acts like they
still are.

Art is the visual language, developing it and actually having something
to say sans words, of the entire brain body and soul rather than the
misfiring and tiny frontal lobe, is the true creative artists role.

This aint it

It is time to put aside childish things.

St Paul and some guy named Obama.

Try it, you just might like it. Neverland doesn’t exist.

mariuswatz September 4, 2012 at 4:00 pm

Wow, what a gigantic brainfart. Despite the satisfaction of having the results being pretty much as useless as what I pictured when I saw the original announcement, it’s a giant missed opportunity. Poetic commentary on something as scary and dread-inspiring as the US election, really? Self-immolation is surely the superior alternative.

Most of the works would fit in any generic groupshow under pretty much any title. Powhida’s piece is just about the only that survives, Dalton’s pseudo-infographic is underwhelming and a little too obvious. Hand-drawing what could have been done in Illustrator in 15 minutes isn’t very convincing, in fact one wonders if it’s not actually drawn from a computer layout.
Lacking any actual politics, artists working with data or interactive net art would have been much more appropriate. Why didn’t they just ask Luke Dubois?

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: