WE THE DULLES
Aileen Murphy, Anders Dickson, Bradley Davies, David Roesing, Hadi Fallahpisheh, José Montealegre, Maryam Hoseini, Natalia Rolon, Peter Brock, Nicholas Pittman
April 9 - 24, 2016
A collaboration with THE FORT project space in Fort Greene.
In May of 2003 George W. Bush stood on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln and declared combat operations in Iraq over. Behind him hung the now infamous “Mission Accomplished” banner. This slogan came to stand for the calamitous failures of Bush’s march to unilateral war. But it also triumphantly acknowledged ‘regime change’ as a pillar of US foreign policy.
The practice of overthrowing foreign leaders unfriendly to US interests has a long history, much of it secret. Two brothers played an outsized role in this history during their overlapping appointments as Secretary of State and Director of the CIA. John Foster Dulles and Allen Dulles used their unprecedented political influence and experience as lobbyists for large corporations to pioneer regime change as a foreign policy objective during the 1950’s and beyond. We are still experiencing today the repercussions of their attempts to combat the rise of nationalist and communist movements with clandestine warfare, political sabotage, and assassinations. Yet the Dulles brothers themselves remain largely forgotten.
Stephen Kinzer’s recent biography The Brothers details the remarkable lives of John Foster and Allen. He ends his book by suggesting that the only known objects of art depicting the brothers be displayed together in public. The modest bust of John Foster Dulles that used to sit in the airport named for him was kept in a locked closet for more than a decade. A large painting by Diego rivera called “Glorious Victory” depicts the CIA sponsored coup in Guatemala, with Allen Dulles at its center. It now lives in storage in St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum. Kinzer believes reuniting these artistic remnants of past glory might help return these brothers and their legacy to the public eye. Doing so might achieve something else. It might help shed light on America’s continued commitment to clandestine warfare abroad, a policy the country’s leaders still pursue without public accountability or legal justification. At the very least, we’re hoping to provide a chance to talk about these abuses of power and the shitty fact that we’re all implicated.
Kinzer’s invitation is too good to refuse. And so we plan to recreate and reunite these works of art. We will remake the bust of John Foster Dulles here in New York City. A group of artists in Frankfurt, Germany will recreate Rivera’s “Glorious Victory” and display it at JOHAN. Germany seems appropriate for helping us honor the complex web of complicity that the Dulles brothers helped forge. Edward Snowden’s leaked documents revealed that the US conducts drone strikes through Rammstein and Wiesbaden airbases in Germany. Angela Merkel had previously denied this fact. Snowden currently lives in exile in Russia, where “Glorious Victory” languishes in storage.
THE FORT is a project space in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, organized by the artist Peter Brock. http://www.fortfortfort.com/