Last night was a rare, profound moment between art and politics. Actor and director Clint Eastwood gave a speech at the Republican National Convention, spending the majority of his time on stage berating an invisible Barack Obama in an empty chair. While Twitter had a lot to say about Mitt Romney's RNC speech, it also had a lot to say about the implications of Eastwood's "performance."
Barack Obama's campaign secretary, Ben LaBolt, gave Politico an ingenious, matter-of-fact response to what happened, name-dropping the late surrealist painter, Dalí, which both acknowledged the absurdity of Eastwood's monologue and dismissed it entirely. He simply said, "Referring all questions on this to Salvador Dalí."
Obama took the high road in response to Eastwood's surrealist error, tweeting the following last night:
That could have been all. However, Los Angeles Times art critic, Christopher Knight, had an equally appropriate parallel to make, referring to Clint Eastwood as the performance artist, Marina Abramović (whose exhibition The Artist Is Present had her silently sitting across from alternating visitors at the MoMA in 2010). Of course, unlike Eastwood, Abramović had willing and eager participants, and she remained completely mute.
Clint Eastwood is the new Marina Abramović.— Christopher Knight (@KnightLAT) August 31, 2012
As if it couldn't go any further, artist Greg Allen augmented the comparison by giving the performance a clever name, The Artist Is President. It's possible that given Obama's Twitpic response, he may have arguably exhibited more "artistry" in the situation, if that was even a question.
The Artist Is President. RT— gregorg (@gregorg) August 31, 2012
@knightlat Clint Eastwood is the new Marina Abramović.
One's political views would inform an opinion on the rightness or wrongness of Eastwood's speech, with or without comparisons or references to famous artists. Perhaps we can only understand the (ridiculous) events of the Republican National Convention through a history of surreal, provocative art, that was as unapologetic as Eastwood's actions seem to have been.