Is it Art? “Hillary before and after Rarotonga”

2 September, 2012, Rarotonga, The Cook Islands


This is the first in an on-going series of posts on the subject of what does – and does not – constitute art.

In a world in which the acquisition and manipulation of images is ever-easier, to what extent does the expression of meaning rise to the level of art?

This is a simple question, with a long, complex, and controversial catalogue of answers.

We will occasionally look at and muse about the artistic relevance of found art, photography, and every mode of conceptual art.

We will also explore the relevance of these expressions and the boundaries that they define for the development and expansion of Cook Islands art.

In a place where the pull of tradition and cultural history lay major claim on the artistic environment, we will consider and discuss the extent to which modern and post-modern expression can and does invigorate and extend the art that rises from this incredible place.

Consider this piece - ”Hillary Diptych”, captured and completed this morning, on the departure of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from Rarotonga, after her historic visit during Pacific Forum week.

"Hillary before Rarotonga"

"Hillary after Rarotonga"

This dual image, realistic and surreal, represents the transition which is taking place right now in the world, in the South Pacific, and in The Cook Islands.

Not for nothing did Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna call Ms. Clinton’s visit “a huge, huge milestone for our country.”

It is just as well a milestone for global politics, as we are in the center of that part of the world in which the emerging dynamics of the American/Chinese relationship will play out.

And we are in the center of that part of our globe on which the battle for our environment and natural resources will be most pitched in coming years.

So, as a country which has in so many ways been defined by its isolation and its ancient tradition of navigation, we have been ”put on the map” in this way by the simple arrival and departure of an airplane.

And in a powerful inversion of this reality, in this dual image, the green and blue ”map” of Rarotonga has been put on this iconic aircraft, and on the minds of Hillary Clinton and the rest of the world.

Andy Warhol had different and less explicit reasons for his famous depictions of Marilyn Monroe and other icons of popular culture.

Andy Warhol, "Marilyn Diptych" 1962

Andy Warhol, "Marilyn Diptych"

So… is it art?

Let us know what you think, in the comments section below.


["Hillary Diptych" © copyright 2012 Victor Bond. All rights reserved.]