The Ritz Herald
The White House, East Room (inkjet print on newsprint paper), Carolyn M. Wilson Gallery, USF. © Laura Insua

Artist Laura Insua and the Archeology of Power

The image of a destroyed White House gains meaning with recent events in U.S Capitol

Published on January 26, 2021

How ironic! This poignant piece about the White House was researched and conceptualized months before the riots on January 6th. This artwork brings back to life a depiction of the East Room in ruins from the 1940s-50s when the White House underwent extensive renovation and expansion during President Truman’s administration.

East Room belongs to a series of works on paper created by Laura Insua an interdisciplinary Cuban artist living in Tampa, Florida. The whole series shows images of the interior of the building, a container of political power and decision-making, undergoing a dramatic transformation. The work symbolically unveils the decadency of a state that shows itself as powerful to the world. The image of a destroyed White House gains meaning with recent events in U.S Capitol. It makes the apocalyptic possible.

East Room, 2019-21 (Inkjet print on newsprint paper) View of the installation at Carolyn M. Wilson Gallery, University of South Florida (USF)

The artist created this work in 2019 right before Trump’s first impeachment trial. The nation’s capital was going through a crisis that has lasted over time.

Laura Insua makes work that questions perceptions of power. Through a wide range of media including, watercolor, webcam footage, and social practice, Insua crafts nuanced statements about the structures and characters that control our daily lives. The artist uses the political context she grew up in to be critical and investigative towards other political frameworks. She is not limited by her initial political origin, in fact, this gives her a particular sensibility that allows her to understand other geopolitical realities in contrast or in relation to her own.

Her life in Cuba made her pessimistic and skeptical about life, and defined her attitude towards art, an attitude that translates to this context. Laura Insua’s work during the last two years is a compilation of essays about U.S society, a humble opinion of an outsider.

Culture Editor