Artist chooses Obama for giant portrait in sand
A Cuban-American artist wants to create a portrait of Democratic candidate Barack Obama on a Barcelona beach that will measure an entire hectare.28 October 2008
BARCELONA - He's plastered the walls of buildings all over the world with portraits of anonymous figures and his hyper-real paintings have caught the attention of the media across the planet, surprising everyone with his ability to integrate them into the urban landscape.
And now, the Cuban-American artist Jorge Rodríguez Gerada has decided to portray the face of the US Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama in the grounds of the Forum building in Barcelona.
The material used for the image will be sand, and the scale of the "canvas" will be a hectare, making it big enough to be photographed from the air - and to appear in images on Google Earth.
The reason for this, the artist says, is to "allude to the global impact" that next week's presidential elections will have.
A founder of the movement known as Culture Jamming, Rodríguez Gerada has also designed t-shirts for the organisation Democrats Abroad, which feature a Catalan donkey with the colours of the Democratic Party. With this project, christened Expectation, he is hoping to represent the "symbolic power" of Obama, whether or not he is successful in his bid for the White House. He chose Barcelona for the project thanks to its multicultural nature.
"Expectation personifies the immense sensation of hope that is felt by Barack Obama's supporters," he explains.
"Whether he wins or loses the elections, Obama has awoken a great expectation for change, which is a contrast to the decades of disillusionment with the political establishment."
The objective of the work, he says, is to "use art to create an international dialogue about the pressing, and often ignored, needs of the world's population." Rodríguez Gerada hopes to point out that we are "looking for a hero," due to the fact that our situation has become "genuinely dire".
One thing that the work will no doubt achieve is to continue the process of creating a symbol out of the candidate's personal image. Indeed, for the artist, Obama already is a symbol. "His roots, his personal story and his message have already made him into an iconic figure," he says.
Race against time
The Obama project is not designed to be a permanent one, like many of Rodríguez Gerada's prior works. However, it will be a race against time to get the depiction finished before his self-imposed deadline of 3 November, just before the elections take place in the United States. That might not be easy though.
"We are still in the process of collecting funds for the work, given that it's a personal project and everything I've collected has come from private donations," he explains. "Today, Monday, we will start clearing the site of vegetation." To complete the portrait, Rodríguez Gerada will need around EUR 15,000.
Anyone interested in contributing to the fund to complete the work can do so via the artist's webpage.
[El Pais / Alda Olafsson / Expatica]