Maine Governor Paul LePage has garnered public intrigue after ordering his Department of Labor to remove from its lobby Judy Taylor’s mural depicting that state’s history of labor struggle, & this, in the midst of a heated legislative debate.
This act of censoring pro-labor art brings to mind the destruction of Diego Rivera’s “Man at the Crossroads” at Rockefeller Center in 1934 – a piece which, incidentally, would later be recreated in Mexico City.
In Maine, a group of media artists known as BrokeFix, reacted to this decision on April 2, 2011 by obtaining a digital image of the mural &, as their online video shows, by projecting it onto the façade of the capitol building in a stealth act of defiance. In keeping with the militant vocabulary of the Avant-garde, the name assigned to this act of political art is a “photo-bomb”. That it has been praised by progressives in the national media leads us to ask: in our increasingly polarized political climate, is this progressive art?
The issue here is (at least) double-sided. First, it highlights the spuriousness of the motives behind Governor LePage’s decision to order the removal of the mural precisely at the moment when the very issues of labor’s place in the state budget were being discussed at the legislative level. One need not venture far in this direction before it wreaks of rats. Yet there is also the question of how & to what extent BrokeFix’s projection of the mural image back onto the capitol building actually integrates itself into the political discourse to thereby alter the course of our political reality…