America Trumped

Jasper Johns, 'Flag', 1954-1955

Jasper Johns, 'Flag', 1954-1955

Like so many, I'm reeling from the results of the US election. And I'm left with so many thoughts, questions and feelings about how there is obviously an overwhelming number of people who are enraged, disaffected, fed up and voiceless, so deeply felt that they would find a spokesperson and champion in an individual (not necessarily a Party) who has spouted rhetoric that is racist, misogynist, baffling and hateful.

It is frightening. And thought provoking.

How do we move on from here? How do we create communities, societies - globally and locally - that are inclusive, kind, open, respectful, empathic, empowering, generous and mindful of the very urgent and devastating issues we face such as climate change and asylum seekers; of the desperate concerns of those who are less fortunate and struggling, who do not have a means to voice their concerns and take action? How do we counteract so much fear?  

Artist Olafur Eliasson wrote this on Instagram:  

'As an artist, I realise that we in the cultural sector have failed to adequately address the feelings of frustration that people of many nationalities – including, as yesterday made clear, many Americans – harbour with their societal structures. There is deep anger and scepticism. Trump saw the extent of this anger and, much to my surprise, by reflecting it he must have appeared to offer some kind of hope – albeit in deeply polarising, populist terms that are clearly racist and misogynistic. This result leaves me with a lot of food for self-critical thinking. It is clear that we have to reinvent the cultural sector from within, further developing its potential to become an agent for societal change. 

We must not remain inactive. We have no choice but to use this moment as an opportunity to give rise to new movements built on respect and empathy, and to really listen to those who feel unheard. We can only do this if we embody and enact the values that are essential to nurture our societies: generosity, inclusion, the empowerment of everyone. If we, collectively, do this, we can work towards a future that is sustainable and trust-driven for all.'