Yosi Sergant

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Yosi Sergant
Yosi Sergant.jpg
Yosi Sergant speaking at the opening of Manifest Hope, Washington, DC art show
Born (1976-08-14) August 14, 1976 (age 40)
Occupation Publicist
Known for Marketing for 2008 Obama presidential campaign, specifically "Hope" poster

Yosi Sergant (born 1976) is an American publicist and activist [1][2][3] He is known for his commissioning and management of the "Hope" poster created during the 2008 presidential election by Shepard Fairey and for creating the the art and activist events Manifest Hope, Manifest Equality and Manifest Justice.[4][5][6]

Sergant holds a degree in World Arts and Culture from UCLA. Early in his career he worked for Yitzhak Rabin and Larry Clark.[3] After the 2008 campaign, Sergant joined the White House's Office of Public Liaison and on May 11, 2009, Sergant was appointed Director of Communications for the National Endowment for the Arts.[7]

Hope Poster and Campaign[edit]

At a party in February 2010, Yosi Sergant engaged artist Shepard Fairey, then most widely known for his Andre the Giant Has a Posse street art campaign, in a conversation about politics. The conversation encouraged Fairey to create the Barack Obama "Hope" poster which featured the likeness of then candidate Barack Obama.[8] Yosi co-produced the poster and the subsequent Hope Campaign[9] which became not only the Obama campaign's unofficial image,[10] but a globally recognized piece of art that has appeared on a variety of merchandise, and continues to be represented in movies, television series, video games and internet videos. The unique style of the original poster has been parodied countless times since its release, featuring the likeness of high profile celebrities and figures like the Pope, Homer Simpson and most recently Donald Trump; and in 2017, Fairy paid homage the Hope poster with his "We The People" campaign poster for Women's Rights in America and it became the image for the well publicized national marches that took place in January 2017, which Sergant participated as an event organizer for the Los Angeles demonstration.[11][12][13]

Manifest Events[edit]

After launching the Hope Poster and campaign with artist Shepard Fairey in 2008, Yosi encouraged more artists to create powerful images featuring then candidate Barack Obama. Among the artists was painter Ron English who created another now iconic poster entitled "Abraham Obama". He also developed a bicycle spoke card featuring the art of Margaret Coble that was distributed in Portland, Oregon during the primaries that year. The concept grew and soon artists around the United States were creating art to help encourage people to vote for Obama.[14][15] The movement led to Sergant’s idea to create a pop-up art gallery in Denver Colorado during the Democratic Nation Convention. The event was titled “Manifest Hope” and it featured not only art from popular street artists, but also a concert (in collaboration) that featured Cold War Kids, Death Cab for Cutie and Zooey Deschanel.

He followed Manifest Hope with his Los Angeles based multi-day event, gallery and concert series entitled Manifest Equality, which he created inside an abandoned grocery store on Vine Street in Hollywood California in 2010.[16] Manifest Equality again featured renowned artists, musicians, speakers, celebrities and activists with a focus on civil rights. Over 200 artist participated including Gary Baseman, Robbie Conal and Fairey.

In 2015, Sergant created and produced Manifest Justice, again a ten day event featuring hundreds of artists this time focusing on the message of racial equality and criminal justice, health and immigration reform.[17]

Controversy[edit]

On August 10, 2009, Sergant participated in a conference call (he helped organize) about United We Serve, a government program which encouraged community service in four areas chosen by the Corporation for National Service.[18][19] The conference call included about 100 members of the media and arts community, and the invite listed members of the media as hosts for the call.[20] During the call, Sergant and the White House Deputy Director of Public Engagement Buffy Wicks asked the artists on the call to make art about health care reform, a topic being vehemently debated nationally due to President Obama's proposed legislation later known as Obamacare.

On August 25, 2009, Sergant's former employer Patrick Courrielche blogged about the call, calling it "a gross overreach of the National Endowment for the Arts." [21] This initial report included excerpts from the call, which was eventually published by the Wall Street Journal, alleging that the NEA was attempting to use its influence to have artists create work in support of the Obama Administration's domestic policy.[22]

On August 27, The Washington Times reported that Sergant stated that the NEA did not organize the call or invite attendees. Courrielche produced an invite sent by Sergant, which contradicted the communications director's claim.[23] On September 1, 2009, Alex Beam referenced Courrielche's report in his Boston Globe column agreeing that the call was problematic [24] and Courrielche appeared on Fox News with host Glenn Beck.[25] Sergant was eventually reassigned to the title of New Media and Special Projects Advisor.[26][27]

Courrielche released the full audio and transcript of the call on September 21, 2009. Reacting to the full transcript, arts journalist Ben Davis, of ArtNet, argued that the full text exonerated Sergant, and called the attack "politically motivated and built on mostly fabricated information".[28] While arguing that Courrielche "misconstrued the purpose of the call",[24] the White House nonetheless stated, "We regret any comments on the call that may have been misunderstood or troubled other participants," and issued new guidelines to help staffers avoid any appearance of impropriety.[29] At least one government organization called the conference call "inappropriate" and stated that "It's not what the NEA was created for, it's not supposed to be helping the president's agenda; that's not the point." [30] Chairman Landesman issued a statement stating that the call was not a means to promote any legislative agenda but rather to inform members of the arts community of an opportunity to become involved in volunteerism through the United We Serve program, but added, "Some of the language used by the former NEA Director of Communications was, unfortunately, not appropriate and did not reflect the position of the NEA. This employee has been relieved of his duties as director of communications." [31] On September 24, 2009, the NEA announced that "effective immediately", Sergant had resigned from the organization.[32] Sergant later stated "They trapped me,".[33]

Since leaving his job with the National Endowment, Sergant produced Manifest Equality[34] and Reform School.[35]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "People: Yosi Sergant, Creative Force, Obama HOPE Campaign". apolisglobal.com. 
  2. ^ "No longer at the NEA, Yosi Sergant is Back Among the Artists". fastcompany.com. 
  3. ^ a b Mcdonald, Seven (September 10, 2008). "Yosi Sergant and the Art of Change: The Publicist Behind Shepard Fairey's Obama Hope Posters". Village Voice Media (LA Weekly). Retrieved March 24, 2009. 
  4. ^ "Pop-Up Exhibit Provokes Conversation on Manifest Justice". nbclosangeles.com. 
  5. ^ "'Manifest Justice'". latimes.com. 
  6. ^ "Yosi Sergant: Manifest Equality". out.com. 
  7. ^ "White House Poetry Jam Follows Morning Arts Meeting". Washington Post. Retrieved February 17, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Yosi Sergant and the Art of Change: The Publicist Behind Shepard Fairey's Obama Hope Posters". laweekly.com. 
  9. ^ "Who is Yosi Sergant?". m.washingtontimes.com. 
  10. ^ "Behind Obama's Iconic HOPE Poster". huffingtonpost.com. 
  11. ^ "Women's March Los Angeles". finley.xyz. 
  12. ^ "The woman in that iconic poster at Women's Marches was marching too". mashable.com. 
  13. ^ "Artist who made the Obama 'Hope' posters is back with new art". washingtonpost.com. 
  14. ^ "Manifest Hope: DC". core77.com. 
  15. ^ "Highlights from the Manifest Hope:DC Party". pbs.org. 
  16. ^ "'Manifest Equality': A Call to Action". huffingtonpost.com. 
  17. ^ "'Manifest: Justice' Art Show Explores Inequality and Reform". capitalandmain.com. 
  18. ^ "JW Obtains More Documents Regarding NEA's Conference Call Encouraging Artists to Promote Obama Political Agenda". Judicial Watch. Retrieved July 10, 2015. 
  19. ^ "NEA's Rocco Landesman Issues Statement on Yosi Sergant, Deposed Communications Director". Arts Journal. Retrieved July 10, 2015. 
  20. ^ "STATEMENT ON THE RECORDING OF THE AUGUST 10 NEA CONFERENCE CALL". Breitbart. Retrieved July 10, 2015. 
  21. ^ "The National Endowment for the Art of Persuasion?". BigHollywood. Retrieved July 10, 2015. 
  22. ^ "Notable & Quotable". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved July 15, 2015. 
  23. ^ "Official dishonesty from the National Endowment for the Arts". The Washington Times. September 1, 2009. Archived from the original on February 22, 2012. Retrieved February 17, 2012. 
  24. ^ a b Beam, Alex (September 1, 2009). "The art of agitprop". Boston Globe. Retrieved February 17, 2012. 
  25. ^ "Is National Endowment for the Arts Pushing Obama Administration's Agenda?". Fox News. September 1, 2009. Retrieved February 17, 2012. 
  26. ^ Michael Fletcher, washingtonpost.com, September 10, 2009, Beck Strikes Again; Yosi Sergant Reassigned at NEA
  27. ^ ABC News, September 11, Yosi Sergant : The Next Van Jones? Archived September 13, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  28. ^ Ben Davis, THE NEW CULTURE WARS, artnet Magazine.
  29. ^ Bill Burton (September 24, 2009). "White House Counsel Guidelines for Public Outreach Meetings". Whitehouse.gov. Retrieved February 17, 2012. 
  30. ^ Jake Tapper for ABCNews (September 22, 2009). "After 'Inappropriate' NEA Conference Call, White House Pushes New Guidelines". ABC News. Retrieved July 10, 2015. 
  31. ^ "NEA's Rocco Landesman Issues Statement on Yosi Sergant, Deposed Communications Director". Arts Journal. September 22, 2009. Retrieved July 10, 2015. 
  32. ^ "Yosi Sergant Resigns". September 24, 2009. Retrieved September 25, 2009. 
  33. ^ "No Longer at the NEA, Yosi Sergant Is Back Among the Artists". March 3, 2010. Retrieved July 25, 2010. 
  34. ^ Ward, Alie (March 4, 2010). "Manifest Equality art show in Hollywood displays love, civil rights in the time of Prop. 8 – Los Angeles Times". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 17, 2012. 
  35. ^ "Reform School NYC x Shepard Fairey – OBEY GIANT". Obeygiant.com. Retrieved February 17, 2012. 

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