Make America Your Bitch Again

by Sarah Chacich

"Make America Great Again," Carving a niche into the general public's psyche like a bad tattoo, an inspirational desk quote, or perhaps an epitaph for a lost cause.  "No more pencils no more books no more teacher's dirty looks, we got no class, we got no principals, and we got no innocence..." to quote the 1972 Alice Cooper song.  Never has this dive bar anthem for rebellion made more sense to me than now with the current political climate's potent mixture of rude boy uprising ad ignorant bittersweet bliss.  Despite the initial blowback of disbelief after letting go of ill-conceived promises we'd have our first female president, we watched as our naive selves became omens of the unsettling future in the wake.  Blaming each other, mourning, protesting, trying to find any way out of the mess we'd made, having given the power to our first orange president- and still we are here.  However we have a new glow, sentient having been forced to swallow our pride over and over with the understanding we need to deal and also metabolize what we've done. 

 

As someone who makes art and lives in New York City, I'm into the idea that I'm part of a community here, the notion that I'm invested in something larger than myself.  It seems relevant, although it is difficult to believe sometimes with the fragmented pace of life and the alienating challenges the city can bring.  When I moved here from Trump country aka, the midwest, my art heroes were Keith Haring, Laurie Anderson and Colin de Land.  I didn't know what I was getting into, high on pipe- dreams taking the financial risk of grad school.  It seemed like the right thing to do at the time. 

Thousands of dollars in living expenses later, and post-2016 election, it feels especially important to remind myself of the way my romantic ideals of the avant-garde have come to evolve over time spent in New York City.  Outside of the identity politics and the raw emotional impact the election has triggered for me ( a left of center minority female), one of the more lingering effects has been the reminder that I am still hungry for a satisfying definition of community here in the city.  Moreover, is it possible to care out a community inside of the art world that is as idealistic as it is effective in what it preaches today? Are we able to acknowledge the praxis of ideal notions of the avant-garde as something separate from mere navel gazing narcissism? What is truly binding us together here in the art world? What is it that makes us feel really together? And in what way is this integral to conversation surrounding art's relevance? 

The quotidian details of everyday living in New York City keep me grounded, reminding me that we work to make our own communities.  However it is the complete ostentation of a president-elect who has given me the curse of a psychological recording on repeat- Make America your Bitch Again- that helps me truly remember we have all stumbled into this place in time together- this post apocalyptic feeling has just come sooner than we'd expected considering we are still alive.  At this point I'm not wondering whether it's in vain to keep making art, but instead, where are we going with it?