Jonathan Horowitz's Occupy Greenwich

Jonathan Horowitz's Occupy Greenwich

An immersive socio-political pop art experience at the Brant Foundation

An immersive socio-political pop art experience at the Brant Foundation

Text: Eduardo Andres Alfonso

As the November Presidential Election quickly approaches, and our shortsighted American selves prepare to defect to Canada or France or Scandinavia (but just not Mexico because, you know, the wall), it is nice to remember that eight years ago in 2008 and then in 2012 we made the same threat.

"November 4, 2008" is both a date and a state of mind, re-created by pop-political artist Jonathan Horowitz’s Occupy Greenwich at Brant Foundation in Greenwich, Connecticut. It is a room-sized installation divided into two large halves, one red the other blue, replaying one of the most significant days in recent US History.

Installation View. Jonathan Horowitz: Occupy Greenwich. Courtesy of the Brant Foundation Art Study Center.

The incoming poll results are announced state-by-state on back-to-back screens playing CNN (blue half) and Fox News (red half). Hundreds of balloons are suspended in nets on the ceiling waiting to drop in celebration of an Obama victory. And although this is a re-run of 2008 and the outcome is no surprise, your idealism is still palpable as Wolf Blitzer announces that then Senator Barack Obama has won Florida, and you cringe/smile as then vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin sound bites come on the Fox News side. This, as well as Horowitz’s other works, brings a political awareness to a museum and zip code aloof to promises of making America great again (it seems like Greenwich has never been NOT great).

Almost everything in the exhibition has a participatory note to it, and on the day of the opening the whole crowd was pulled into the spectacle. In one of the more perverse works (with a long-winded title, we might add), "Contribution Cubes (American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, American Legislative Exchange Council, Black Lives Matter, Catholic Charities USA, Fraternal Order of Police, Greenpeace, Human Rights Campaign, National Council of La Raza, National Rifle Association, Palestine Red Crescent Society, Planned Parenthood)," attendees were asked to wear their philanthropic alter-egos on their sleeves by openly donating money to any one or all of the above mentioned charities. In another, titled "Free Store," where items could be taken and left without a value judgment, women dropped off Versace sunglasses in exchange for a Yankees baseball cap.

Installation View. Jonathan Horowitz: Occupy Greenwich. Courtesy of the Brant Foundation Art Study Center.

While the works that involved the crowd proved the most amusing, several other pieces, which riffed on art historical themes, were more silently clever. The artist described a double cross made of wood, reminiscent of a minimalist object, as a morbid celebration of gay marriage. Three of Roy Lichtenstein’s "Mirror" paintings were re-done by friends of Jonathan Horowitz as “self portraits,” and were slightly smudgy versions of the artists typically machine made paintings. They were hung in three bays overlooking the polo fields with an Urs Fischer and Richard Serra sculpture in the distance.

The whole Brant Foundation has an otherworldly art-utopic feeling to it, especially when one is coming from New York City. It’s an amusing world to enter into for a day and it is enjoyable to witness that other world injected with populism through Jonathan Horowitz’s work.

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