The inauguration today of Joe Biden as the 46th American president is a significant moment for both the USA and the world at large. Given his legacy, artists will no doubt continue to reference Biden’s predecessor in their work, while the ongoing societal and environmental issues that define our times will remain key themes to explore and dissect. For at time at least, though, there will be hope that a new spirit of collaboration and inclusion can lead towards positive change.
Marking Biden’s inauguration, Unity – an exhibition by British artist and social historian Nicola Green – visualises this sense of hope, looking back to the 2008 inauguration of Barack Obama, as well as presenting new work inspired by the 2020 presidential election.
The iconography at the centre of the exhibition is derived from Green’s work Day 1, Light, the first of seven silkscreen prints from her critically acclaimed series ‘In Seven Days…’ for which the artist created the symbol of the seven hands, with different gestures, united in a circle of light. Intended to represent the long arc of history, and the fact it can take generations to enact meaningful change, the original design was inspired by the Democratic National Convention, which took place on the 28th August, 2008. A hugely significant date in African American history, this was not only was the day Obama accepted the Democratic nomination, but also the anniversary of the passing of the UK Slavery Abolition Act in 1833, and the date of Martin Luther King’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963.
Inspired by such momentous events, Unity is intended as “a reminder that when people come together they can achieve the seemingly impossible.”