TRUMP played by actress Sue SterlingThis year I created a series based on my observations of the sea changes roiling... Read More
TRUMP played by actress Sue Sterling
This year I created a series based on my observations of the sea changes roiling America since the election of Donald Trump in 2016. The 10 Commandments juxtaposes the tenets of the Ten Commandments with America’s current political, social and cultural status. The Bible continues to play a large role in American public life, as politicians, candidates, and activists advert to it directly in support of a variety of positions, programs, and policies. By creating images, which include some of America’s most famous presidents, within the context of the Ten Commandments,I intend for the visual shock, incongruity, irony and metaphor to inspire discourse and insight into how American society has gone so astray, diverting away from the “American Dream.”
Since 1788 the United States has elected 45 presidents, all have been uniquely challenged by the politics of their era. Most have been successful, with the US becoming synonymous with freedom and power. However, America today seems more divided than united. President Donald Trump, the businessman and former reality TV star, is demeaning the nation’s status on the world stage with his hubristic and childish tweets, as well as his uninformed and often volatile decision-making. The propaganda that denigrates the free press is boosted by the ideology of populism, which underpinned Trump’s 2016 election campaign. There are other issues challenging America today: protectionism, corruption and classism. Money is God, Wall Street is untouchable and virtually unaccountable. Healthcare is a product, not a basic right. Yet, Americans have the constitutional right to bear arms even after the shooting of children at places like Sandy Hook Elementary School. Class and race inequalities are prevalent in many parts of the country. LGBT rights are at risk along with the clawback of women’s reproductive choices — leading to greater inequality in the economic and political spheres for females. Most significant is the battle of conservative principles and ‘values’ versus progressive ideals.
Americans governance is based on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, designed to limit government power, and the principles of rule of law. Alongside these venerated texts is The Ten Commandments; which have been foundational to modern Western justice, with its biblically rooted laws and ethics imported to North America by the Puritans that settled the country. The Ten Commandments still provide an enduring delineation between good and evil for most of society and specifically religious conservatives, who often apply their understanding of the teachings of the Bible to politics and to public policy. As a result, subjective and twisted interpretations of these ancient rules are undermining the American ideal of democracy, rights, liberty, opportunity and equality.
While I have always looked upon America as a nation to emulate, inspired by its work ethic and dedication to democratic principles, I find the dissolution of progressive principles gut-wrenching. As a Canadian, I feel that I have an insightful perspective and I am deeply concerned for my American friends. I know how fortunate I am to live in a country that takes care of the most vulnerable through healthcare and other social safety nets. A policy of multiculturalism respects ethnic diversity. In fact, the impact of Chinese culture on my hometown of Vancouver, British Columbia was the inspiration of my photography series, Modern Girl, 2016. Our nation, of course, has ongoing political and socioeconomic issues that include many of the problems similar to the US, from a consumer culture, with its pursuit of perfection based upon illusion, and health problems rooted in part upon fast-food diets. A smaller population, less strident gun culture and leftist government make such problems seem easier to grapple with.