On November 7th, 2016, it seemed as if everyone knew how the U.S. presidential election would conclude, particularly our major... Read More
On November 7th, 2016, it seemed as if everyone knew how the U.S. presidential election would conclude, particularly our major media outlets.
On the morning of November 9th, 2016, it was clear that no one had known what they had been talking about.
We’d spent so much time living in a world defined by largely reliable focus groups, polls, and surveys that we’d become convinced that we could idly predict the future. Our news sources became complacent in their analysis of human behavior, and we followed along. It became the blind leading the blind.
But what truly struck me was that we seemed surprised to discover our inability to foresee the future, to discover that we aren’t omniscient.
Here—in the tradition of other paintings depicting the parable of the blind leading the blind—I’ve presented a row of men pointing us in a specific direction. An isolated portrait of blind, British academic, economist, and statesman Sir Henry Fawcett is repeated four times* as a visualization of our election’s timeline. For the majority of the painting (which was completed before the election), Fawcett (who became a noted social and political leader in England during the reign of Queen Victoria despite his disability) is seen pointing us toward his left. However, just before the work’s conclusion (the rightmost quarter, completed after the election), he turns and abruptly shoves the viewer’s gaze to his right.
Just as so many news outlets encouraged our attention (and hope) to the Left, Democratic candidate for a majority of the general election, after November 8th—we were all forced to attend to an unanticipated Right.
*The presence of four repetitions is a nod to the four-year term of the presidency.