Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Francesco Vezzoli (Italian, b. 1971)
Rosalynn Carter, 2007
Inkjet print and watercolor on canvas with metallic embroidery
Courtesy Galleria Franco Noero, Torino


How are we manipulated by strategies of political communication? How do issues such as fame and the power of the media play into this dynamic, and what is the role of democracy? Inspired by the 2008 U.S. Presidential elections, artist Francesco Vezzoli (Italian, b. 1971) explores these issues and how they’re expressed through contemporary visual language in his installation Democrazy, on view at The Wolfsonian–FIU October 24-December 7, 2008 and sponsored by Gallery Ivon Lambert, Paris. The presentation at The Wolfsonian is in connection with the current exhibit, Thoughts on Democracy, part of the Celebrating America year of exhibits.

Democrazy is based on a fictional election campaign with two hypothetical candidates. A video project, the installation consists of two election ads played concurrently, featuring the theoretical candidates, who have different political visions. The candidates are played by media superstars, both poised to become the quintessential twenty-first century leader: Hollywood actress Sharon Stone and French philosopher and author Bernard-Henri Lévy.

The ads were produced in collaboration with teams of political experts, one led by Mark McKinnon, George W. Bush’s media advisor in 2004, and the other by Jim Mulhall, part of Bill Clinton’s creative team in 1996.

The ads, with their on-point, extremely precise, and seductive messages, highlight the candidates’ popularity, confidence, and their seductive capacity to use the media to bolster their images.

“Democrazy is a provocative look at the powerful roles of media, visual language, and celebrity culture, and as such is very much in keeping with the themes that The Wolfsonian’s collection addresses,” notes Cathy Leff, The Wolfsonian’s director. “What Franceso Vezzoli has done in this installation is to comment on and reflect back to us a view of our current election and the media frenzy that it’s generating. The fact that this noted artist has collaborated with former presidential advisors makes this fictional representation all the more intriguing.”

Democrazy was first presented in June 2007 during the opening of the Italian Pavilion at the 52nd Venice Biennale. It follows the artist’s earlier parody of contemporary Hollywood, Trailer for a remake of Gore Vidal’s Caligula, presented at the 51st Venice Biennale and at the 2006 Whitney Biennial.

About the Artist
Francesco Vezzoli’s work includes video installations, petit-point embroidery, and photography, mixing heterogeneous languages and genres to bring together pop icons, auteur cinema, art history, social, and personal issues. He has had solo shows in museums and institutions worldwide including Fondazione Prada, Milan; Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Turin; New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; and Tate Modern, London. His video projects and needleworks have also been presented at several biennials including the 2006 Whitney Biennial, the 49th, 51st, and 52nd Venice Biennials, and the 26th Sao Paulo Biennial; and in group shows at venues including Whitechapel Art Gallery, London; The Studio Museum in Harlem; Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris; and Migros Museum, Zurich.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Wolfsonian-FIU Presents Thoughts on Democracy: Managing Perceptions through Images and Words

Propaganda has always been with us, but the recent polarization of the electoral landscape and growing sophistication of technology and media marketing savvy, illustrate the ways politics are often swayed by manipulation, doublespeak, and falsehoods. It's time to take a close look at how propaganda distorts perceptions and how it can move a nation to positive action.

Join us for an afternoon of thought-provoking dialogue with distinguished journalists, visual and graphic artists, political thinkers, and writers as they explore the 2008 Presidential campaign just ten days before the election.

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 25, 1:00-5:00 pm
The Margulies Collection at the Warehouse

rsvp@thewolf.fiu.edu or 305.535.2645

(double click on the image for detailed information)


Tuesday, October 14, 2008


What are your thoughts on democracy?

The Wolfsonian–FIU, an art and design museum located in Miami, Florida, challenges middle and high school students throughout the nation to visually address an essential question confronting all U.S. citizens in these times.

Challenge guidelines:

  • Two entries accepted per school (You decide how to democratically select them.)
  • Accompanied by completed entry form (No entries accepted without one.)
  • Artwork must be two-dimensional and a maximum of 8.5 x11 inches
  • Submit entry in one of the following formats:
    • Email digital scan of original artwork (must be 300 DPI, high resolution PDF or Microsoft Word format) to TODposterchallenge@thewolf.fiu.edu
    • Print and mail entries to Thoughts on Democracy Student Poster Challengec/o The Wolfsonian Ed Dept., 1001 Washington Ave., Miami Beach, FL 33139
  • All entries must be received by November 17, 2008
  • Prizes will be awarded and top entries posted online
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __



To participate in the poster challenge, please enclose this form with up to two entries:

City: _____________ State:_______

Teacher’s Name: _________________________________

Email: __________________________________________ Phone:__________________

#1 Student’s Name: ____________________ ____________
Grade: ____

#2 Student’s Name: ____________________ ____________
Grade: ____


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Thoughts on Democracy Arrives at Miami International Airport

Add some art and gather your thoughts on democracy during your next vacation! Posters from the exhibition Thoughts on Democracy are now on display at Miami International Airport, on the second level at the Concourse D Federal Inspection Services area past the security checkpoint. The exhibit is a component of the broader mia Galleries Exhibition Program, and will be open for the next six months to ticketed passengers or by special request.

Read the full press release...


(Miami-Dade County, Florida) – The Division of Fine Arts and Cultural Affairs at Miami International Airport announces Thoughts on Democracy, an innovative initiative on display at the airport for the next six months that brings together 60 renowned contemporary artists and designers to present original works inspired by Norman Rockwell’s “Four Freedoms” posters. Thoughts on Democracy is part of Celebrating America, a series of four exhibitions at The Wolfsonian-Florida International University through 2009 that examine and celebrate the social, political and personal American experience from the 1930s to the present.

“We invited artists and designers to participate in a ‘graphic remix’ that would reinterpret Rockwell’s posters in today’s visual language,” said Wolfsonian art director Tim Hossler, who conceived the project and is co-curating the show with Steven Heller, co-chair of the MFA Design Department at the School of Visual Arts. “We are thrilled with the response and are eager to see how the participants’ exploration of democracy stimulates public conversation on the subject.”

Rockwell’s “Four Freedoms” paintings were first published in the Saturday Evening Post in 1943 and were later issued by the government as posters for a U.S. war bond drive. The paintings illustrated the ideals expressed in Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s impassioned “Four Freedoms” speech to Congress in 1941, in which he envisioned a “world founded upon four essential human freedoms” - Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear.

“We are always looking for new, provocative ways to foster dialogue around our collection in relation to contemporary issues, particularly when we are able to involve contemporary artists and graphic designers,” said The Wolfsonian’s director, Cathy Leff. “Thoughts on Democracy will be a fascinating and timely reflection of how Roosevelt’s universal ideals, articulated in 1941, are interpreted and expressed in 2008.” She explained that The Wolfsonian’s impetus for the project was a recent gift of the “Four Freedoms” posters to the museum by Leonard A. Lauder.

All artists and designers included in the exhibition have generously donated their time and creativity. Thoughts on Democracy is supported by a generous grant from the Funding Arts Network (FAN), in partnership with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Thoughts on Democracy is on display on the second level at the Concourse D Federal Inspection Services area past the security checkpoint and is open to ticketed passengers or by special request. The exhibition is a component of the broader mia Galleries Exhibition Program, created for the purpose of humanizing the airport environment with cultural and educational experiences. Images of the exhibition are available upon request.

For more information, contact the Miami-Dade Aviation Department’s Division of Fine Arts and Cultural Affairs at 305-876-0749 or the Office of Communications at 305-876-7017.