Archive for April 2009
Repression is defined as the rejection from consciousness of painful or disagreeable ideas, memories, feelings, or impulses. Perhaps on another token, it is tough love or maybe even an over abundance of love that squeezes an entity dry, or in this case, almost dry. Mr. Zig Jackson is a Native American Indian of Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara descent. The three affiliated tribes from the Dakota areas of the United States. Small pox divided the tribes and the bureau of Indian affairs gave the surviving old Indians the last names, Jackson, Stevenson and Lincoln; names of three of the US presidents. Through a government rationed lifestyle and the education he received from a government Indian boarding school, St. Joseph’s Indian School in Chamberlain, South Dakota, the system managed to pave a path. Mr Zig Jackson is now a long standing professor of photography currenlty teaching at the Savannah College of Art and Design. Throughout the year he collects donated clothes to take back with him on annual trips across country to his family. Realizing where you are from I suppose is an important process in art making and art experiencing. For Mr. Zig, the journey has come full circle and he is able now to give back in more ways than one. However, he attributes his early childhood education to his passion for art. He states “For as long as I can remember, art has been my passion. An integral part of my culture, art to me is innate. As a child, I remember playfully fighting with my brothers over government commodity boxes which we used to sketch on; commodities were U.S.-subsidized foods given to us by the government.” Perhaps from this we can learn to instead create meaningful art and not war.
Orientalism is an era in history that one would think is tied to the Fast East. Rather, the art stemming from this era tells of journeys made to the Near East or the Middle East rather. English and French voyagers paved paths and made accessible the gems of the Middle East. Culture, tile work, probably music and women. I suppose depending on what you read, art was born in this era when these men began to paint what they saw and what they experienced. Traveling along the Nile, Sheikhs were depicted in proud head robes and vast landscapes were captured with brush and even on plate. Pale Moorish women were painted in poses reflecting Venus di Milo suggesting women were taken on these trips, or perhaps they were already there from earlier histories of trade and conquest. Gypsies painted playing music or with solomon eyes and Syrian trecks across deserts depicting dry land and dead animals. Art of the Orient tells its own tale of trade, knowledge and inspiration. Meanwhile, the foreshadowing Klimt is painting away in Austria, and the flood gates open. Notice her circles and his squares and the beautiful patch of flowers they kneel upon.
Hollywood, Bollywood and now Nollywood. Nigerian woodstock? Or should I say blackstock? Pieter Hugo is from Johannesburg, South Africa and became enamoured with performers from the streets of Nigeria. A nomadic relationship between beast and man is a perfect metaphor for Africa nation. The outcome of the United State’s civil war was the precursor to the much later 1966 formation of The Black Pathner Party, an African-American self defense organization existing, in more recent years, primarily in southern US states. Initially formed in Oakland, California, near San Fransisco, its main goal was an attempt to bring deserved justice to the black community after years of soiled histories of repression between the Afro society and the Whities, (also existing in South America and extending in earlier histories to Spain.) As the Vietnam war approached, counterculters in the US were being formed. Some Americans moved out of the country to escape the draft while others plundged head first into the line of duty. The hippy movement, 1969 Woodstock is probably the best known wave of counterculture thought. The Black Panther was another. Its ideas stemmed from socialist Marxisms and communist Maoisms in attempts to alleviate poverty and promote education within and defend itself against heavy lingering racisms. However, during the late 60s and 70s, the Black Panthers began to accept more advocates outside of the black community, merging with the hippy movement. Nonetheless, titles have evolved to photographs and culture is being preserved. Hollywood we know and love of course. Bollywood is up and coming to mainstream society with its Slumdog Millionare and now we have Nollywood. Africa beast is in the air. Photographer Pieter Hugo has infiltrated this Nigerian stage and captures the power of a relationship between actual beast and man. However, not a black panther, a hyenna. Another beast in this case, and perhaps an equal mix of feline and canine at that. Beautiful and telling and captured on paper to be preserved forever. With another plane ticket, we have Dutch artist Renzo Martens making Gonzo documentaries titled Enjoy Poverty. Of the two, which speaks louder, for longer?
Lee Miller was an American photographer from upstate New York. Her determination, her beauty and perhaps her agreeable disposition enabled her to travel. She began her career as a New York City fashion model, on the other side of the camera, photographed by the likes of Edward Steichen and other reputable names. Her first big break was acquainting herself with photographer Man Ray, who took her to Paris to, assumingly, pose as the character of many roles. Through this relationship, among others, she gained the eye of a documentary photographer. She was exposed to a world outside her home in upstate New York, a world far more vast than perhaps she had ever imagined. With the opportunities that came her way, she took the bull by the horns. She is best known for her surrealist photographs which speak in the language of poetic metaphors. Similar to fashion photography and quite opposite photojournalism, her surrealist work (and her fashion photography work for which she is less known) intentionally and intelligently offer invading objects that occupy her photographic space. In some ways, this is surrealism because it is not true documentary. For better or for worse, it is the manipulated landscape. With surrealism, the power lies in the hands of the photographer rather than in the hands of the scene. Other renoun surrealists are Rene Magritte and Salvador Dali, who took this movement a few steps further and altered his mind far beyond the likes of sanity. With intentional starvation and sleep deprivation and love sick mutiny, Dali’s body and heart became a tool to produce imagery that a ‘healthy’ mind may not encounter. On a similar note, Lee Miller used herself as a tool of expression and access, which can speak, in an artist’s world, as the relationship between artist and muse and muse and artist. Through both artist’s gestures, an image taken by Lee of Picasso staring back at his own female creation suggests perhaps both artists are thoroughly perplexed. Above, however is a surrealist picture of a ripped screen offering a view of a barren desert. Is that a mirror above it?
Picasso’s Guernica can be considered stemming from the cubist era of art. Notice the simple shapes he uses to construct this moment in history. Cylinders, triangles, squares, rectangles and circles make up his heavily weighted piece, massive in size and only black, white and gray. He depicts despair in the time of the Spanish civil war. As he paints two lights, a candle and a bulb he offers hope and yet fear with one knife. Notice the offset eyes of some of his characters, crazed with fear. He also paints the all knowing eye at the lower left. Although Spain is a united country, the Basque region of northern Spain exists as a linguistic phenomenon given that the language spoken is nothing like French nor Spanish. The city of Bilboa lies in the central Basque region, assumingly named after Spanish Catholic explorer, Vasco de Balboa. There seems to be ground for assumption that the Basques are descendence from the aboriginal race of Europe. The language curiously has only two conjugations; “to be” and the other to express “to have” and encompasses as many as 25 dialects. A portion of their pride must surely be accredited to their resilience to a Roman attempt to impose a new language. The Basque provences also encompassed the center of the iron mining regions of Spain, yet their language was not condusive to all allies formed during the civil war. Nonetheless, a complex network of factions within his country likely drove Picasso to look to France, his canvas and his pigment for an attempt to discover personal solace.