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As the Campaign Heats Up

By: Steven Heller | October 13, 2008

As the campaign veers towards the finish line, various new initiatives, exhibitions, and personal projects are surfacing. Here are a few worth noting:

On October 15, Parsons The New School for Design, in collaboration with The Vera List Center for Art and Politics at The New School, presents an international and interdisciplinary exhibition investigating democracy as a global brand. Ours: Democracy in the Age of Branding (above), curated by Carin Kuoni, features an international roster of more than forty emerging and established contemporary artists and an extensive array of performances, workshops, and new commissions. The exhibit is described as “[examining] the desires generated and promoted by democracy as a brand and investigates aesthetic and political systems of representation developed in response to these desires.” Given my latest book on branding totalitarian states, I am particularly interested in how branding is acomplished in U.S. politics.

Also on October 15, the Philoctetes Center presents Voters and Friends: Group Influence in Individual Political Belief and on October 22, The Design of Influence: How Images and Words Sway Minds (with me as moderator).

Designers have also produced graphics expressing feelings and anxieties about the current election: NotAnotherCstudent.com by Julia Ames focuses on the lack of intellectual rigor among the nation’s highest office holder and seekers (quotes by Sarah Palin, John McCain, and George Bush, below), a site that could easily be described as “Everything you say may and will be used against you”; Spelling for Change, “a political activation kit developed by a group of creative professionals to spread awareness and passion about the Obama campaign”; Seymour Chwast’s lapel pin statement about the uncanny relationship of old and new; and 30 Reasons, which offers 30 posters in 30 days about the election–from a particular perspective, of course.