Jonathan Horowitz: Occupy Greenwich

On Sunday, the Brants—the art collector Peter and his wife, Stephanie Seymour, and two of their children Peter, Jr. and Harry—played unofficial hosts to the annual spring exhibition opening at The Brant Foundation in Greenwich, Connecticut alongside director Allison Brant. "Jonathan Horowitz: Occupy Greenwich" is open now through October by appointment only. The artist reinstalled works from his previous shows, including broadcasts of Obama's 2008 inauguration, his "Free Store," where visitors can donate items as well as take them (which he put on at Art Basel in 2013), and a bronze statue of Hillary Clinton. He also installed a functional solar panel sculpture, and transparent donation boxes dedicated to charities ranging from Planned Parenthood to the National Rifle Association. Though Horowitz's Warholian pieces are always overtly political, they make an even bigger impact during this election year. What also made an impact? The fact that the Brants traded their typical pig roast for vegan lunch fare in honor of the artist. Here, Horowitz talks Hillary, Trump, veganism, and more.

How did you get hooked up with the Brant Foundation?
Peter has bought some of my work over the years, and he asked me if I wanted to have a show. I said yes.

The "Hillary is a person too" sculpture feels like the cornerstone of the exhibit. What inspired that piece? That was part of the "Obama '08" show, but of course she continues to be one of the central figures of the political culture. It’s usually the powerless that have to ask to be recognized as human beings, which can be demeaning. Ironically, Hillary, who is decidedly not powerless, has had to do similar things to seem more likeable.

Did you create anything site-specific for "Occupy Greenwich?"
The show is a little bit more time-specific. I wanted to reshow the "Obama '08" installation, and this felt like the perfect time to look back at that day. But I did think about the socio-cultural context of Greenwich as well. With the "Contribution Cube" piece [for example], previously I had only made contribution cubes for organizations that I support. Here I thought it would be interesting to take myself out of it and have the work document the population that passes through over the course of the next six months. Half of the cubes are for more liberal organizations and half more conservative ones, with a couple that are in between. And I chose the organizations that were the most relevant to the election year—Planned Parenthood and the NRA, [among others].

Did you vote for Hillary in '08? Do you think she has a better shot this year? I’m expecting and certainly hoping that she’ll be the next president, but with Donald Trump morphing on a daily basis, who knows what she’ll be up against. I’m sure a lot of Italians never imagined that Berlusconi would become their prime minister.

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What are your thoughts on a potential third party candidate?
I’m all for it if the person would take votes away from Trump and help elect Hillary.

Do you have any frustrations with the 2016 election so far? Yeah. I was looking forward to some entertaining TV coverage, but I can’t watch anymore—it’s making me sick.

Have you made any art inspired by the 2016 election?
I have a thing or two in the works.

Do you think that artists have a responsibility to be message-oriented or political?
I would never say what an artist should do or should be. I don't even want to claim that much about what I do. My work has political references, but that's just because I have strong political convictions. It's hard to see or know what effect art has on elections or anything else.

How long have you been vegan and why?
I’ve been vegetarian since I was 13, and vegan for the last six or seven years. When I was a kid, my parents took me to see a bull fight in Mexico and it had a traumatic effect. But the reasons not to eat meat are many: the barbaric cruelty of factory farming, environmental devastation, human health.

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