Conservative Dada

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Alexander Habighorst Freelance Writer
Font Size:

This past Saturday, one of the most controversial art “happenings” since the 1960s took place. No, it wasn’t some banal reinterpretation of Piss Christ for the umpteenth time, or yet again some other bland paint-by-numbers attempt to shock the bourgeoisie. Instead, it was a show centered around the candidacy of Donald Trump and the larger cultural debate his campaign has started.

The show was the brainchild of Lucian Wintrich, the man behind the “Twinks for Trump” party at the Republican National Convention. However, soon after this Wintrich was fired from his advertising job for ideological reasons.

This just illustrates the hegemonic liberalism of our time, which can’t stand to be made fun of, or challenged. That’s doubly true in the world of culture.

“Art is what you can get away with”, as Andy Warhol said. For Lucian Wintrich, and the other artists behind #DaddyWillSaveUs Warhol’s adage proved particularly apt, as the Saturday show had to be moved to a new gallery at the last minute. This only added to the pulsing punk rock feel the show was already taking on.

After being evicted from its original home in SWPL ground zero Brooklyn, the show found a new home in Chelsea. Which took on a new meaning in light of the terror attacks there just a month ago.

For the most part, the art was conceptual and featured some of the biggest names on the edgier side of conservatism. From Wintrich himself to Breitbart provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos , infamous “PharmaBro” Martin Shkreli, and Vice co-founder Gavin McInnes amongst many others.

Altogether the art formed a radically avant-garde, yet conservative critique of the current year.

From Yiannopoulos drenching himself in pig’s blood to the backdrop of the victims of our broken immigration system to Wintrich’s portraits of lithe young men in Trump hats, the zeitgeist of the show was a radical attempt to shock the stale liberal orthodoxies of the art world in general.

After all, it’s not homosexuality that’s shocking to the aging liberal cultural mandarins, it’s the Trump hat. Even the famous staid Gilbert Stuart portraits of George Washington became radical symbols when dressed in Trump hats, as one artist did.

My own work was a collaboration with an artist friend of mine who wishes to remain anonymous, it was of an old McDonald’s placemat of Martin Luther King jr. that we affixed a Trump hat on. Its title was “Value Menu Morality” and was an attempt at shocking the boring corporate liberal consensus which such an advertisement represented.

Art has ceased to be radical and has turned more to boring naval gazing amongst its chattering classes than any attempt to engage culture.

What passes for radical today, is just the vanguard of already confirmed elite opinion in the Acela corridor.  That’s why #DaddyWillSaveUs was so important.

In an interview given in the 1970’s David Bowie said that there “was some ghost force liberalism haunting the air of America”.

This was echoed by Wintrich, describing the leftist objectors to the event to Breitbart News:

“You look at the left right now saying “yeah we’re gonna beat the shit out of you, watch your back.” When the Christians were protesting that, they weren’t necessarily inciting violence; they were saying “yeah we’re not gonna touch you but you’ll burn in hell later on.” So I think I’d prefer that threat.”

Donald Trump’s candidacy was a bolt of lightning into the prosaic debate between beltway conservatism and its liberal counterparts for the past few decades.  It’s had reverberations throughout American culture that will last for many years to come.

His candidacy is a form of weaponized celebrity that only someone like Andy Warhol could have predicted. So it’s not surprising that he would empower a new underground cultural reaction that is taking on the left on its own terms, much as the late Andrew Breitbart called for.

This past  week’s art show was a form of radical conservative Dadaism that is hopefully the first shot of many against the boring cultural hegemony of the liberalism of ’68 that still stifles discourse in our country.

Alex is a writer based in the D.C. area, and a proud avant-garde conservative.