Due to quarantine and social distancing TOYS “4” US has pivoted to premiere virtually with a disheveled charm on zoom as a mock infomercial (“zoomfomercial”) featuring technical artist, Brandi Kinard, trying to navigate through technical difficulties on her computer. This zoomfomercial is the end product of a self medicating art therapy session in response to her political PTSD in the age of COVID-19.
TOYS "4" US - Toying With the Obsolescence of US Politics
Brandi Kinard draws on her political PTSD — frustration with the current state of political discourse — to create 3D jokes that express her dissent in a cunning and innocuous way: through recasting classic retro Americana toys with hot button polarized political topics including immigration, abortion rights, gun control, and xenophobia. She uses political satire as a tool for reframing the perspective on these issues in a way that makes her stress and anxiety melt away and helps her realize that these issues aren't insurmountable after-all. Although she used this project as art therapy mainly for herself, she also believes others can benefit from being exposed to her work. She wants people to be less complacent and complicit with the unethical activities that are happening in this political ecosystem.
Brandi is fascinated by the sociocultural nature of toys — their ability to be inverted to replicate the larger culture symbolically — and she has suspicions about the dark side of play. Her motivation for TOYS “4” US was fueled by her belief that it is not a coincidence that Trump supporting nostalgist express the Baby Boom period as the time that America was great. She declares, “such nostalgia also idealizes the play of that era, emphasizing its innocence and ignoring the sexism, violence, racism, and other dangers that have inspired generations of people to devise social programming for structuring and supervising the greater society”. In her research, she felt delighted to discover that sociologists have also claimed that “toys impart undesirable values [on children], and in turn lead to undesirable behavior”. This cemented one thing about her project: the work was already done once she picked the toys that were most representative of partisan issues. The jokes already existed within each toy. She only needed to make their material culture more obvious through parody and exaggeration.