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Thursday, October 7, 2004

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness


One of the least scabrous but hardest to take pieces in his show lays the words "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" over a grid of photographs from various sources documenting Iraqi war casualties. Each image represents 1, 000 victims, according to credible independent estimates of the Iraq war's human cost to those it was meant to liberate.

Though "Life, Liberty..." hurts to contemplate, some of Fein's pieces can spark a smirk irrespective of the viewer's politics, just by their graphic resourcefulness. The nine panels of "Osama Bin Hussein" (2003) morph the face of Osama bin Laden into that of Saddam Hussein, above the advice to "connect the dots that expose fabrications rather than fabricating connections." The work just took on new currency with the release of another videotaped message from bin Laden.

Kenneth Baker, His art is not subtle. It can be hard to take. But Clinton Fein is not afraid to make a statement, The San Francisco Chronicle, November 2, 2004

Clinton Fein stands before his “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness,” in which the words are imposed on a background of Iraqi war victims.

Photograph by Lea Suzuki, The San Francisco Chronicle, November 2, 2004

No, these aren’t unusually complex protest signs. These are pieces of artwork that make up the Clinton Fein Uncovered exhibit, opening Feb. 12, from 6-9pm, at Upfront Gallery in Ventura.

And artist Clinton Fein isn’t sure how Ventura audiences are going to take his biting, satirical, in-your-face political exhibit, which also includes a grid made up of 5x7 photographs of maimed, injured or dead Iraqis with the words “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” scrawled across it.

But whatever kind of attention Clinton Fein Uncovered garners, Fein—who will attend the opening reception on Saturday—can handle it.

Molly Freedenberg, Everything’s Fein, Ventura County Reporter, February, 2005


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