Hung is a collage artist; his collage is animated; colorful shapes pass across a singular wall-mounted video screen. And in that psychedelic motion, the most readily identifiable figure appears to be Hung's protagonist: President Barack Obama. It's through a series of graphic vignettes that Hung causes Obama to incarnate again-and-again as a prominent religious figure: Jesus, Buddha, Eshu [Nigerian], the Virgin Mary, Krishna, Mohammad, and finally Abraham. Sorry Moses!
One wonders how many consumers of Hung's work fixate upon the foreground, noticing only Obama. In fairness, the video's vivid hues and queer pace--if not also the smiling face of the President--are hypnotic. So that it's good to stop the action, examine a still frame, and ask: What is this fellow doing?
Well, one interpretation might be that Hung imagines the United States of America and the state of Israel to be real obstacles to world peace. So that his lampoon is an effort to effect change?
Curiously, though, Hung manipulates not only the symbols of political regimes--but also the symbols of religious and economic orders, viz., Judaism and Capitalism. And the more closely one looks at any given frame of Hung's video, the more suspect Hung's motives become. It isn't, for example, "Zionism" as represented by a historical personality which Hung shows as an obstacle to peace; rather it's a hanukkiah [nine-branched menorah employed at Hanukkah] that, per the artist, blocks the dove. It really looks like Hung aims at Judaism and the Jewish people.
Intellectually, In G.O.D. We Trust is at best sloppy. Yet, Hung was careful about what he chose to include. "Every piece," writes Hung, "of graphical element contains meanings."
It's an upsetting sort of failure on the part of critics and curators not to question such content. What does their silence mean? Is no one looking, carefully, at what is put on display? Why does Hung not facilitate honest dialogue: placing his most controversial material front and center? Had another "community" been portrayed in a similar manner? It is, indeed, a "Sign of the Times."
Poscript: The title of the work, and juxtaposition of Christ and the dollar, appear to "borrow heavily" from Winston Smith's artwork on the cover of the Dead Kennedys' album of the same name: In God We Trust, Inc., 1981:
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