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Art Imitates Politics; Pollution Creates Art

Reality BaseBy Melissa LafskyOctober 7, 2008 11:51 PM


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Given the historical magnitude and importance of the 2008 election, it's no surprise that the event has been prompting plenty of artistic interpretations. Obama has inspired prints and been the subject of numerous collaborations, while New Hampshire's Currier Museum of Art is cashing in on the trend by selling t-shirts, magnets and pins with Warhol-inspired images of the two candidates. Meanwhile, Los Angeles-based artist Kim Abeles had a slightly more incisive idea to illustrate each candidate's commitment to emissions reduction: Make portraits with pollution. To create her prints, Abeles placed stencil images of each candidate on top of sheets of opaque glass, then left them on the roof of her studio in downtown L.A. Obama, who has proposed an 80 percent emissions reduction, was left out for nine days, while McCain, who promises a 60 percent reduction, was out in the air for 18 days (all lengths of time were based on Abeles's estimation of the difference in emissions levels that the two would tolerate). When she took the prints down and removed the stencils, the images revealed themselves in all their smog-catching glory. The depth and colors offer a pictorial comparison of the pollution each candidate would leave in the atmosphere.


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