January 24, 2009 ·
By Drew Zahn
DES MOINES, Iowa – Amid the pomp, circumstance and celebration of welcoming a new president, an artist in Iowa created an inaugural parade sure to draw attention, even hundreds of miles from Washington, D.C.: Barack Obama, riding on a donkey, complete with waving palm fronds and “Secret Service” escort.
As WND reported, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan declared in October that when Obama talks, “the Messiah is absolutely speaking.” But artist Matthew J. Clark’s parade – marching Obama through the streets of Des Moines in similar fashion to Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem – takes the messianic imagery even farther.
The Bible describes Jesus’ procession into Jerusalem in the 21st chapter of Matthew as the fulfillment of the prophet Zechariah’s words, “Behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass,” or as the New International Version paraphrases, “gentle, and riding on a donkey.” As the celebrated Messiah entered the city, the Bible also tells of adorers spreading their cloaks at Jesus’ feet and waving palm fronds.
Charlotte Eby, columnist for Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, witnessed a strange sight earlier this week, as a sculpture of Obama marched down Des Moines’ Locust Street in similar fashion.
“Progressing slowly down Locust and holding up traffic was a rubbery Barack Obama sculpture saddled on the back of a donkey,” Eby writes. “A pair of black SUVs led the procession and two more trailed behind, Secret Service-style. A couple of the SUVs were decked out with tiny American flags.”
Eby continues, “A few men led the Donkey down the street and a woman made her way along the sidewalk, keeping up with the procession and handing out palm branches to the few perplexed onlookers who had gathered on the sidewalks to see what the fuss was about.”
Clark called the marching artwork “A Simulacrum of Hope: Simulation of the Triumphal Entry of the Christ.”
The American Heritage Dictionary defines the word “simulacrum” as “an image or representation; or an unreal or vague semblance,” leaving the viewer to interpret whether Clark considers the parade a celebration of Obama or a mockery of Obama’s more adoring supporters.
Clark’s website describes the sculpture in equally vague terms.
“This project was inspired by my thoughts about ‘icons’ and religious symbols and whether they represent truth or merely represent,” the website reads. “The sculpture poses a question that relates to social conventions, metaphysics, and the collective response of society in reaction to fearful and uncertain times, but doesn’t impose an answer. For me, it has much more to do with the general public as followers than any leader granted power.”
According to a bio on his website, Clark is “a contemporary visual artist whose primary medium is sculpture. His projects are concept driven and primarily concerned with highlighting contradictions between ideas and their outworking in our current culture.”
The website also reports that since the parade has ended, the sculpture will be retired to sit upon a taxidermist-mounted donkey.