Washington October 30th 2018

I was invited to a talk given by Rafael Lorenzo-Hemmer at the Hirshhorn Museum who are exhibiting three of his heart-beat installations. His talk, given at 7pm in the cinema-like auditorium, was an object lesson in complacency. Rafael has, as with other contemporary super-stars, a small full time industrial team of fifteen working on his ideas and when he said two of them were ‘Trump refugees’ the Washington audience of over 100 people, laughed. One woman cheered at another aside he gave on Trump and they all clapped heartily at his description of his next idea to take place on the Mexican/US border, with searchlights in both countries criss-crossing in the sky. The woman sitting next to me, interpreting the introductory video on his life of work so far, read off the shows and the countries: ‘Sydney…Mexico…London…Paris… he’s been all over the world.’ As if this, in itself, were indicative of his worth. The loud clapping and the sounds of approval for Rafael’s views gave me pause for thought. Three days before, on the previous Sunday, in Pittsburgh, 11 Jewish people were murdered in their Synagogue. The greatest slaughter of Jewish people on American soil in American history. I am led to the thought that those who resist in their cultural enclaves the growing fascism in the USA, those who think by supporting a light show at the Hirshhorn they are fighting Trump, those who, despite all that is happening, maintain their ‘niceness’ and self indulgent liberality, are compliant to the will of the fascists. The people who are not nice are those who resist and resisting fascism is a deadly game. People are going to die in their thousands before this is dealt with but just as passion can degenerate into indifference, just as an art movement driven by men and women of vision and longing can within a generation become no more than mannerist so too a people, founding a nation on high principles and dedicated to those principles, can degenerate into ‘nice’ fascists. Cicero, and many others, mourned that fact that the Emperor and his cohorts could enact the most profound assaults upon the Republic as long as the people were given a Games to take their minds off what was really happening. Rafael’s light shows are a diversion. I don’t know how much it cost to mount this diversion in DC but I do know it will cost lives because it is not, and it never will be, the way to fight American fascism.

Daniel Nanavati

Vol 33 no. 3 January / February 2019. p4

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