Henry Hargreaves’ “Fortunes of a Nation” Photographic Series

Presidential quotations repurposed for art

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One can react to repeat political disappointment, sadness and confusion through innumerable means. Art, however, has long been one of the most important tunnels to channel it all into. With his latest photographic series, “Fortunes of a Nation,” CH favorite Henry Hargreaves has found a way to grapple with the baffling linguistics of America’s current president. Hargreaves repurposes quotations drawn from speeches and tweets and, while they don’t make any more sense than when they were first uttered or typed, they’re certainly easier to swallow with Hargreaves’ art.

Hargreaves’ compositional considerations are two-fold. Perhaps surprisingly, they begin with the broken snacks. “The modern-day fortune cookie is an American invention—a cultural appropriation passed off as a Chinese custom,” he explains to CH. “Today, these cookies are mass-produced, using added sugar and artificial coloring to achieve the sweet flavor and trademark orange we identify with the playful end to a takeout meal.”

He weaves the quotations in organically. “I felt the message in a fortune cookie was more often bad advice than pearl of wisdom. When I hear the prophecies from President Trump, I often take a moment to check I haven’t missed something profound—but then realize I didn’t.” From there, he “placed these orange goodies on a gradated red, white and blue backgrounds to frame the fortunes of a nation.” While there’s certainly an element of entertainment, it would be much more humorous if it weren’t a true representation of the current state of affairs.

Images courtesy of Henry Hargreaves