In the midst of his multifaceted coronavirus response, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has sometimes caught backlash for his forays into visual art: in April, he unveiled a handmade mask collage that instantly sparked questions about why the donated masks weren’t being distributed to citizens so that they could use them. Cuomo also frequently employs the expertise of Brooklyn artist Rusty Zimmerman to make elaborate posters that illustrate his current agenda, and a new Zimmerman creation has just been revealed. Predictably, a social media firestorm ignited around the unique design, which features a giant mountain crowned with a Love Wins rainbow and riddled with different captions like “Economy Falls,” “Mask Up” and illustrations depicting social distancing.
Here is a high res version of the Cuomo pandemic poster he unveiled today. pic.twitter.com/3LlcewnuOV
— Nick Reisman (@NickReisman) July 13, 2020
As with Zimmerman’s previous creation for the governor, which featured a vintage-inspired phantasmagoria of sea creatures, battering winds and an impressive sailing ship, Cuomo’s pandemic poster demands to be closely inspected and analyzed. Some of the illustrations are downright bizarre: a picture of a coronavirus tester being inserted into someone’s nostril looks more like someone doing cocaine, and on the mountain’s right-hand side, a figure of a man dangles precariously off something that’s been named “Boyfriend Cliff.” What in the world is Boyfriend Cliff, and how many brave men have perished there? Furthermore, written menacingly on the mountain is “111 Days of Hell.” Not exactly encouraging!
It looks like one of those projects where the designer tries to stick to a coherent idea but the client keeps insisting on random shit to make various stakeholders happy, and eventually the designer just gives up https://t.co/HAVD3Lliib
— Christopher Ingraham (@_cingraham) July 13, 2020
Throughout the span of the pandemic, Governor Cuomo has been leaning heavily on mountain metaphors to describe what New Yorkers have withstood and accomplished. In a recent press conference, Cuomo compared the curve of coronavirus infection rates to a mountain itself; “it’s actually proportionate,” he explained. However, given the fact that over 32,000 people in the state of New York have lost their lives due to the coronavirus, it doesn’t seem like there’s a valid reason for Cuomo to choose this moment to unveil inspirational art signifying overcoming obstacles. We’re all still very much in the middle of this.