Todd Weiner Gallery
Clash of Civilizations
September 4th - October 31st, 2020
(No Public First Friday Events)
Christine Buchholtz’s timely work depicts a gender subversive view of current world leaders as they clash for power. Globally, we are experiencing the most divisive and uncertain times in modern history, while simultaneously the most interconnected. Buchholtz has a keen insight into international power politics because of her role in defense and security policy at the Danish Ministry of Defence. This body of work, Clash of Civilizations focuses on Buchholtz’s view of the current world leaders and their quest for power and expansionism. Her depiction of them as women speaks to her suggestions of the benefit of the feminization of politics. Five acrylic paintings portray US President Donald Trump, President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, President of the People’s Republic of China, Ji Xinping, President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, the Supreme Leader of North Korea, Kim Jung Un.
Buchholtz focuses on two themes in Clash of Civilizations: expansionism and the feminization of politics. Expansionism can be described as the policy of territorial or economic expansion associated with expanding one nation’s territory, ideologies, power, wealth, or influence by means of economic growth, empire-building, and colonialism.
The figures highlighted in this collection participate in various degrees of expansionism. The other strong theme in Buchholtz’s work is the feminization of politics and is depicted in her subversion of gender identity. The feminization of politics emphasizes gender equality in representation and participation, challenging gender roles, and seeks a different way to do politics in a more compromising and less confrontational approach to international security policy.
Buchholtz was inspired by the style of 1920’s French Art Deco posters and the modernistic look of government propaganda posters during the first and second world wars; like the well-known Uncle Sam poster: I want you for the U.S. Army. And more recently, the graphic front pages of The New Yorker. The colorful and flat aesthetic of the illustrative posters is mirrored in the acrylic paintings of these world leaders. The figures are centered within the pictorial plane and the surrounding text illuminates key issues that Buchholtz playfully includes as part of the leader’s narrative. Buchholtz explains, “the captions on the paintings are inspired from my job in Danish security and defense politics as well as a good deal of research on symbols, politics, and ideologies of the painted presidents.”
The texts include references to political discrepancies, but all share one caption at the bottom: ”Expansion – What’s Next?”. Make America Gay Again depicts a female Donald Trump. The vertical text refers to consumerism at its peak. Amazonia is a feminized version of “Amazon” the massive US-based export service and ”Walmax” to the Nation-wide Walmart industry. The red cap references the notable cap worn by President Trump with the text “Make America Great Again”, but with a slightly different message.
As a small nation, Denmark is used to paying attention to how larger nations work the scene of international politics. Buchholtz’s position has inspired her to create this current series of presidents “marking their territory”. Buchholtz says that “Having both good American and European colleagues, I know that nothing is as black and white as it might seem in a presidential tweet or comment to the media. But at the same time, I work tirelessly together with my international colleagues to make sure that there are no misunderstandings when tweets go high. This is why my paintings show the harsh side of power politics – and maybe how it would be if there were no diplomats working back-stage.”
Make America Gay Again | 24” x 30” |Acrylic on Canvas