Areopagitca

Julie Headland

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  • 2012
  • acrylic on canvas
  • 48 h x 60 w in.
  • artist notes

    This piece examines the submission of artistic truth-telling to popular trends and ephemeral government authority. The images appropriated for this piece tell a powerful backstory of the futility and danger of censure.

    The title, Areopagitica, references John Milton’s influential and impassioned defense of freedom of speech and expression before English Parliament in 1644.

    “The Red Balloon”, a 1956 film directed by French filmmaker Albert Lamorisse, follows the adventures of a young boy who befriends a sentient balloon and orders it to “OBEY”. The little boy ordering the red balloon about the streets of a bygone Paris charmingly illustrates the futility of trying to control the thoughts and works of an individual.

    In this piece the young boy’s balloon is emblazoned with a familiar image, Mannie Garcia’s AP photograph of President Obama. The photo was used as source material by street artist Shepard Fairey for his ”Hope” campaign poster of Obama. Fairey’s Obama “Hope” poster became an enduring symbol of his first presidential campaign and has been copied, parodied and re-appropriated in almost every medium. Mannie Garcia and the Associated Press went to court and argued that the image was illegally incorporated into the poster. Failure to “OBEY”?