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If American Foreign Policy Had a Gift Shop, What Would It Sell?

 by Hannah Lobel


Tags: Arts, Visual Art, Phil Toledano, America the Gift Shop, installation art, U.S. foreign policy, Abu Ghraib, torture, Guantanamo,

Abu Ghraib bobblehead
Back in July, I blogged about Phil Toledano’s elegant visual profiles of phone-sex workers. Now, he’s moved on to foreign policy, asking the simple but odd question: “If American foreign policy had a gift shop, what would it sell?” 

Using what he calls the “vernacular of retail,” Toledano takes us on a surreal commercial tour of the last eight years—a trip well worth taking on the eve of the election.

“We buy souvenirs at the end of a trip, to remind ourselves of the experience,” Toledano writes. “What do we have to remind us of the events of the last eight years?”

The fantasy store’s stock includes the requisite T-shirts (“I Was Rendered to a Secret Prison and All I Got Was this Lousy T-Shirt” and “I (Heart) Unilateral Preemptive Strikes”) and some chocolates, along with an inflatable Guantanamo Bay bouncy prison cell and an Abu Ghraib bobble head, which Toledano tells me he had to have fabricated in China since no one stateside would make it.

Toledano’s installation is being shown today at Meet in New York (101 Crosby Street). If you can’t make it, take a virtual tour here.

Abu Ghraib coffee tableGuantanamo Bay prison cell

 

Images courtesy of Phil Toledano.