Monday, September 8, 2008

The Senator & The Life Aquatic

A chlorinated Obama? Do explain...
Readers of this blog will recognize the subject map above: a set of concerns that occupy territory outside the traditional realms of art history, but which are fundamentally engaged with visual-cultural material with a base in cartooning and illustration, including the professional cultures of same.

Only recently
have I opened up a teeny window into my decidedly non-professional engagement with swimming, primary sport of a now-distant youth.

Very rarely you get a happy convergence which integrates your professional activities with your personal ones.

Case in point: the annual Master's Swimming Open Water event in Chicago, the Big Shoulders 5K Swim. [I do not swim open water events--this is why God invented swimming pools.] At any rate, the event was held on September 6, last Saturday, and the organizers provided shirts to all registered swimmers as part of the $50 event fee [$70 if same day registration].

The whole shirt design is shown below, complete with typographic additions beneath the image.

United States Masters Swimming [USMS] sanctions all sorts of competitions all over the country, which are organized at the local and regional level. The Illinois Masters Swimming Association [ILMSA] is getting all sorts of grief about the shirts. ILMSA sanctioned the event but did not approve the shirt, which has been taken as a political statement of endorsement of Senator Obama's candidacy for President. The apolitical nature of sport is taken very seriously by some, and I agree, although I tend to think that this was more a cultural statement more than a political one.

I posted the following on the USMS discussion board:

I think this is a hilarious shirt. It trades on the famous print image of
Obama by Shephard Fairey, who might turn out to be the one with a case to be pissed off. He's a designer and illustrator with a fondness for propaganda, and specifically the visual signature of social realist stuff from the 1930s and later.

However I seem to be in the minority. The discussion thread can be reviewed here.

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