My experience working as part of a team to develop an imaginative thought experience that plays with the alternative yet-to-happen historical election of Jesus in 2028.
Imagine this — Jesus is on the ballot for 2028
And you’re designing his campaign. First off, phew. That’s a lot to take in. This was the prompt given to me as I worked with artist Joseph DeLappe to create articles for an exhibit at the Museum of Alternate History, an active discussion of what would happen if some Americans, well, got what they wanted.
“What if some people got what they really wanted — Jesus, running as a successful candidate for POTUS. This bold presupposition is posed to create a playful space in which the paradigms, oddities, and fuss of the American election campaign are teased, prodded, and interrogated.”
- artist prompt, from Joseph DeLappe.
This prompt, and growing up in part of Conservative America, had me thinking. And added in with the fun challenge of creating some of the kitch that comes in along with any campaign and the sort of home-brewed now turned iconic imagery that becomes so present during an election. The challenge was this, how do you create campaign assets satirically in a way that allows a larger statement about the society and culture to be made.
“What do we do to ‘people’ when we put them under the campaign microscope? How does it change us? What if that campaigner is above normal criticism? What new truths do we create when we idolise the one we support and vilify the one we oppose? With some sting and some humour these images are designed to stir reactions from viewers who in turn may analyse their own perspectives and that of our society.”
- Joseph DeLappe
The idea of how we treat those running in an election, and almost dehumanize them, is haunting and a bit traumatizing. My brain continuously went to current and ongoing arguments about the separation of church and state. What are “good Christian values” and where do they play a role in modern politics? How would some of the language be impacted and affected?
My concepts pulled ideas from the idea that a POTUS Jesus would be sort of the second coming of Christ, Jesus is on earth again. It’s all part of the larger idea that POTS would be the answers to our prayers, heaven is calling, and who are you to deny that calling?
Religious followings share some similarities with political belief systems. We're socialized that these topics don’t belong in public conversations. However, we tend to force them oh so uncomfortably in public spaces — pointing out our differences like an uncomfortable zit on our forehead.
Heaven on Earth,
The Everlasting Starts in 2028.
Creating a campaign that calls to what so many people want and resonate with, better life on earth for all of us is, at the surface level, easy. But when religion and politics get into the mix, these issues become harder to discuss. It's quick to get heated. This project was a good reflection on how we handle religion and politics in conversation, and how we can better facilitate productive conversations coming from a place of curiosity and genuine interest in knowing more.
To sum things up
Unfortunately, the work as a whole collection with the entirety of artists is currently in limbo, searching for a place to be displayed. But the concept is one that I’m happy I’ve had the opportunity to participate in and has only continued my love of conceptual and protest art. As one with a formal education in liberal arts, mainly journalism, art, and sociology, I’m continuously fascinated by how we communicate a message, and the impact of the message on humanity.
Concepted by Joseph DeLappe
Erin Mikail Fuss (Staples).
In the archive of Museum of Alternate History
still a relevant conversation piece.