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Present Indicative Politics and Future Perfect Positions: Barack Obama and Third Text

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Abstract:

A shift of historic proportions has started to take shape in the Americas with the election of Barack Obama as President of the US in 2008. Revealingly, many of the measures Obama has begun to implement are based on ideas originally supported by Third Text over the last thirty years. It is perhaps not surprising that the most iconic image over the last half-century in the US is Shepard Fairey's 2008 poster HOPE, which features a famous almost Che-like portrait of Obama, now in the National Portrait Gallery, even as the poster was most commonly seen along with graffiti in the streets during the election. Similarly, there is another artist who gained new significance in the US recently: Theodore A Harris, whose anti-imperialist collages in the tradition of John Heartfield present searing critiques of US government policies both at home and abroad. Both artists provide potential clues for glimpsing the future.

Keywords: Barthes's taxonomy; Eduardo Galeano; Gilbert Stuart; Herbert Marcuse; Mannie Garcia; Obama poster; Shepard Fairey; Theodore A Harris; electoral photos; presidential portraits

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09528820903185010

Publication date: September 1, 2009

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