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In 1974, artist Vincent Trasov ran for mayor of Vancouver under the guise of his performance art persona, Mr. Peanut. Trasov’s character was a symbol of artists and their ambitions, while its name was also (conveniently) his campaign platform: P for performance, E for elegance, A for art, N for nonsense, U for uniqueness, and T for talent.
It was a wacky piece that got lots of media attention — including articles in Esquire, Interview, and, most importantly, General Idea’s epoch-charting FILE magazine — and it predicted the reality-television antics that have come to dominate the political circus that plays out in the mainstream media.
The campaign motto was “Elect a nut for Mayor,” and Trasov’s performance brought international attention to the mayoral race of Canada’s third-largest city. The performance was so successful that Trasov was even able to attract the endorsement of American author William S. Burroughs, who said:
I would like to take this opportunity to endorse the candidacy of Mr. Peanut for mayor of Vancouver. Mr. Peanut is running on the art platform, and art is the creation of illusion. Since the inexorable logic of reality has created nothing but insolvable problems, it is now time for illusion to take over. And there can only be one illogical candidate-Mr. Peanut.
Some footage of the campaign was compiled in this video for a 2014–15 exhibition at the Belkin Art Gallery at the University of British Columbia. It shows how the public, media, and the other candidates at the time reacted to this early act of creative political resistance.
Has all that much changed in the world of politics?
The University of Virginia researchers wrote that the data “provides compelling evidence that these symbols are associated with hate.”
We are waiting for spectacle and when the quotidian, yet incongruous actions occur I wonder whether there is any real payoff coming.
Hear from Holly Jean Buck, Carolina Caycedo and David de Rozas, Simon Denny, Elizabeth Hoover, Renee Kemp-Rotan, Joseph Kunkel, and more at this free public event.
Tanega’s approach to mark-making comes across as stream of consciousness, as if she’s engaged in a conversation with herself.
Starting Monday, readers can borrow one of 50 rare and out-of-print titles, mailed to them completely free of charge, from Saint Heron Library.
EFA Open Studios offers a portal into the creative habitats of over 65 artists working in Manhattan’s longest-running studio program, including Dannielle Tegeder, Wafaa Bilal, Cui Fei, and Anina Major.
This is Yuskavage’s great gift, turning upside down our settled ways of thinking and seeing and, with ease, transforming the vulgar and ridiculous into the sublime.
51 international publishers and galleries showcase their latest editions in prints and artists’ books at this free public fair, which is fully online this year.
While hardly about the pandemic, or any of the other crises so afflicting us, all are invoked in this exhibition, which is also often tender and profoundly soulful.
These glowing, dynamic artworks reproduce something of Bosch’s chaotic energy, but on an immersive, multi-sensory scale.
This week, addressing a transphobic comedy special on Netflix, the story behind KKK hoods, cultural identity fraud, an anti-Semitic take on modern art, and more.