Political Art and Tom Molloy’s New World

When we think of murals on public walls, we might imagine childlike portraits stretched across city blocks—or, the popularized work of Shepard Fairey (currently in Dallas).

But we might not imagine a mural which touts an anti-American slogan like, “Down with U.S.A.,” or depictions of the statue of liberty as a skeleton, which the Associated Press reported February 2, 2012 represents several murals throughout Tehran, Iran—as “Government-sponsored murals became a centerpiece of the Islamic establishment’s image-building machine,” writes the publication in “Revolutionary art: Iran murals gallery of defiance.”

Politically-oriented art offers a context within which to examine American politics. Further, with the media largely controlling American access to information, and our obliviousness to foreign relations clouded by ethnocentricities, it starts to seem that we are more America the Blind, than the free.

Akin to this, Time Magazine’s cover art differs greatly in the United States versus other countries, often subverting overtly controversial topics in favor of more prosaic messages.

Although the streets are an ideal place to splay political art, Tom Molloy chooses to contain his more subtly subversive work inside the white box on the occasion of his show New World. Currently in exhibition at Lora Reynolds Gallery in Austin through April 14, 2012—Molloy’s sentiments are aimed at the U.S., and interpret the deal-making of politics, the irony of American patriotism, and the error of our democratic ways.

Political art such as Molloy’s calls attention to our ethnocentricities, pushing us to seek alternative news sources, and become active. It’s patriotism in the truest sense of the word, and it’s here in one of our U.S. capital cities.

Molloy includes a c-print, large-format photograph, titled Flag, which depicts an American flag wrapped in plastic with a price sticker, $9.59, and a label which reads, made in China.

Tom Molloy, Flag

Feature image: Tom Molloy, Shake (detail Mubarak/Bush), 2011

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