The Republican primaries got me thinking: What art world inhabitants best represent the candidates? Let me spare everyone a bit of time pursuing that line of thought: there aren't any good matches. I did however come up with a few pairings I wouldn't mind seeing. Here are suggestions for three high-profile Republicans.
Michele Bachmann: Tea Party congresswoman from Minnesota and general nut bag, Bachmann's beliefs include the usual right-leaning talking points: smaller government, fewer taxes, and that, um, carbon dioxide is not a dangerous gas. Recently Bachman said she wants to padlock the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) because it's strangling the economy.
The L Magazine couldn't pay me enough to talk to Bachmann about the Stanford scientist who found direct links between increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and "increases in human mortality.” Luckily they won't have to look very far for someone who will; artist Steve Lambert will do it for free. His 2006 project, "I will talk to anyone about anything,” involves him sitting at a table near those advocating political, religious and other causes and chatting with folks who approach him. Bachmann would be a good test of Lambert's mettle.
Sarah Palin: Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin is a regular Fox News commentator, and coiner of such words as "refudiate." She also was the star of her own reality show, Sarah Palin's Alaska, until it was axed after one season on the TLC Network. Work of Art reality TV contestant and performance artist Neo Bustamani may not have coined or misused any words on that show, but I'm pairing her with Palin regardless. Bustamani once made a man eat a hot dog from her crotch. I want to see Sarah Palin eat that dog.
Mitt Romney: A Harvard alum, and long-time venture capitalist, the former Governor of Massachusetts is considered a moderate in this race, despite falling very far to the right. While he does not share Bachmann's ideas about abolishing the EPA, he's still in the anti-stimulus, tax-cuts-for-the-rich crowd. He also comes from a Mormon family that lived a polygamous lifestyle until two generations ago.
There's probably an American Tracey Emin to pair Romney with, but there's not much point in tying him to discontinued family traditions since he's a sworn monogamist. For this reason, Romney is stuck with James Turrell, the land artist who was also raised Mormon. Turrel's now a practicing Quaker so Romney's not exactly a perfect match, but they're both great fundraisers, and have incomplete projects: Romney's presidential ambitions, and Turrell's giant naked-eye observatory in the Arizona desert, Roden Crater, in the making since the late-70s. My bet is that if Romney wins the primary and the presidency, Turrell will finally finish Roden Crater during his term.
(Photo: James Turrell, "Roden Crater," work-in-progress. Courtesy the artist.)