Political Advertisement X 1952-2020

In 1984, Ronald Reagan obliterated Walter Mondale at the polls. That was also the year that Antoni Muntadas and Marshall Reese started an art project based on a deceptively simple idea: time travel via political advertisements. Muntadas and Reese took television ads for the presidency from as far back as 1952 and strung them into a sequential chain. Viewing the ads together forced different political epochs into conversation with one another, revealing surprising echoes, connections, and contradictions between them. The project had no guiding voiceover or flashy transitions. Instead, Muntadas and Reese opted for a lighter touch, and their artistic voices are present only in their curation of the ads and in the way the clips were edited together. Since ’84, Muntadas and Reese have returned to the project every four years to update it with fresh material from the latest election cycle. Reese says the ever-evolving piece is probably the longest running of its kind in history. The newest version of  the project, Political Advertisement X, which incorporates ads from the 2020 election, will be available in the American Film Institute’s screening room starting tomorrow. The film is available from Oct. 28 to Nov. 5 at afivsr.eventive.org. $12.