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Obama Street Art: Civic Icons, Collective Memory and the Visual Politics of National Identity

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Abstract:

My paper addresses the theme of this panel through an examination of the progressive art movement surrounding Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign and considers how visual images serve as “performative guides” for enacting modes of citizenship and belonging. While the Obama campaign has often been celebrated as a site where new forms of participatory democracy converged around social media technologies, it also spurred multiple sites whereby a popular visual culture articulated a “new aesthetics of patriotism” (Sturkin) and innovative ways of staging citizenship, community, and the nation. These artworks circulated widely; through viral social media networks, in news media and popular commercial outlets, in counter-cultural forums, and physically on urban spaces across the United States becoming important sites for participation in electoral politics.
Drawing on ethnographic field work conducted in Texas, this paper considers the ways that visual communication can provide the necessary affective resources “for constituting people as citizens and motivating identification with and participation in specific forms of collective life” (Hariman and Lucaites). I will enlist this workshop’s key concepts; performance, community and nation, to suggest that the Obama art movement relied on popular iconography and specific aesthetic identifications in order to enact collective memories of social struggle into the American patriotic imaginary. I argue that these artworks presented a complex reworking of the national portrait imbued with important questions about how the American body politic should be ideologically and racially inscribed.
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Association:
Name: American Studies Association Annual Meeting
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http://www.theasa.net


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p508581_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Noble, Stuart. "Obama Street Art: Civic Icons, Collective Memory and the Visual Politics of National Identity" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Hilton Baltimore, Baltimore, MD, <Not Available>. 2014-11-25 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p508581_index.html>

APA Citation:

Noble, S. "Obama Street Art: Civic Icons, Collective Memory and the Visual Politics of National Identity" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Hilton Baltimore, Baltimore, MD <Not Available>. 2014-11-25 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p508581_index.html

Publication Type: Internal Paper
Abstract: My paper addresses the theme of this panel through an examination of the progressive art movement surrounding Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign and considers how visual images serve as “performative guides” for enacting modes of citizenship and belonging. While the Obama campaign has often been celebrated as a site where new forms of participatory democracy converged around social media technologies, it also spurred multiple sites whereby a popular visual culture articulated a “new aesthetics of patriotism” (Sturkin) and innovative ways of staging citizenship, community, and the nation. These artworks circulated widely; through viral social media networks, in news media and popular commercial outlets, in counter-cultural forums, and physically on urban spaces across the United States becoming important sites for participation in electoral politics.
Drawing on ethnographic field work conducted in Texas, this paper considers the ways that visual communication can provide the necessary affective resources “for constituting people as citizens and motivating identification with and participation in specific forms of collective life” (Hariman and Lucaites). I will enlist this workshop’s key concepts; performance, community and nation, to suggest that the Obama art movement relied on popular iconography and specific aesthetic identifications in order to enact collective memories of social struggle into the American patriotic imaginary. I argue that these artworks presented a complex reworking of the national portrait imbued with important questions about how the American body politic should be ideologically and racially inscribed.


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