Jim Bassler, Hapsburg Double Headed Duck, 2016
I was invited to be in an exhibit at the Textile Museum in Oaxaca in late 2015. It took them sometime to figure out how to recreate the 17th century technique of spinning duck feathers, then figure out how to send them to me. I do remember working on the pieces during the debates which really helped me to connect Trump with the Hapsburgs. In fact, that was the first piece I did, actually two of them. The first one was smaller, where I practiced to see if I could weave a duck, especially a duck’s foot. That piece I gave to the museum. The larger duck piece was hanging in the gallery when we learned that Trump had won. I asked for permission to remove it, went upstairs and, with assistance from DOSA’s Christina Kim, carefully sewed into the head of each duck more yellow feathers to create Donald’s pompadour.
In Donald and his Hapsburg Empire, I have tried to capture, both the historical and contemporary attitude of arrogance and entitlement that has existed throughout history. As the only North American invited to participate, what might I do? In all honesty, it was a bit daunting to accept the invitation. After reviewing all the historical material, I couldn’t help but notice that on many of the ancient textiles the feathers were used to promote the double-headed eagle of the Hapsburg Empire, a reminder to those subjugated as to who was in charge. With that in mind, and that the feathers came from Canadian ducks, it was a logical step to create the double-headed ducks. The Donald Trump arrogance factor developed as the presidential debates materialized.
In this piece, I have chosen to represent the image of the first president of the United States, George Washington. I thank the U.S. Department of the Treasury for supplying me the image. I have also added an influence from our current century, by using a brilliant concept from the hip-hop phenomenon, HAMILTON. In the cast of HAMILTON there are three black presidents. One of them is George Washington. If HAMILTON can do it, why can’t I. A natural brown, hand-spun, cotton was used.