Posts Tagged ‘war crimes

09
Jun
13

Video: ‘I am Bradley Manning’

June 2013

 

Evil prospers when good men do nothing

Bradley Manning.

A slight, bespectacled, intelligent gay man.
A man who has the courage of his convictions.
He revealed truth at the heart of the world’s largest “democracy.”

Read more…

 

Bradley Manning has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and he should receive it.

 

 

 

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09
Jun
13

Exhibition: ‘The Radical Camera: New York’s Photo League, 1936-1951’ at The Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Florida

Exhibition dates: 14th March – 16th June 2013

 

Alexander Alland. 'Untitled (Brooklyn Bridge)' 1938

 

Alexander Alland (Ukranian-American, 1902-1989, born Sevastopol, Ukraine)
Untitled (Brooklyn Bridge)
1938
Gelatin silver print
The Jewish Museum, New York
Purchase: William and Jane Schloss Family Foundation Fund

 

 

Conscience of the brave

Bradley Manning.
A slight, bespectacled, intelligent gay man.
A man who has the courage of his convictions.
He revealed truth at the heart of the world’s largest “democracy.”

There is something insidious about the American nation. Not its citizens, not its place, but its government. This government has perpetrated evil in the name of its people. Think of Iraq and Afghanistan, invasions in the name of freedom, the support of puppet governments, the assassinations, the military advisors on the ground, the profits made.

The torture. The deaths.

Bradley Manning revealed all of this because he has a mighty moral compass. He knows right from wrong. He was not afraid to expose the hypocrisy that for many years has beaten, unfettered, in the breast of a nation. The home of the brave and the free is sadly under attack from within. In the name of its people.

And why is this text relevant to this posting?
So often in the history of America, dissension is shut down because of some imagined menace, from within or without. Here another group of people (photographers documenting American social conditions) were persecuted for standing up for social causes, for the freedom to expose injustice where it lives. The paranoia of patriotism.

As Harold Pinter has so pithily observed,

“The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.”

Except the hypnotist is a deranged psychopath, a divided split personality arraigning god, greed and guns. Out of one, many sins.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
Many thankx to The Norton Museum of Art for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

“When the persecution of an individual who has exposed an evil is pursued so ruthlessly and yet the evil itself is studiedly ignored, all of us know that there is something very wrong with the way that our society is conducting itself. And if we do not protest in the strongest terms about what is being done in our name, then we become complicit.”

.
Alan Moore

 

“The US has shown remarkable energy in its pursuit of alleged whistleblowers. Has it investigated the deaths of those innocent civilians with the same vigour? With any vigour whatsoever? And which would you consider a crime? To conceal the deaths of innocent civilians, or to reveal them? I know what my answer would be.”

.
Les Barker

 

“To suggest that lives were put in danger by the release of the WikiLeaks documents is the most cynical of statements. Lives were put in danger the night we invaded the sovereign nation of Iraq, an act that had nothing to do with what the Bradley Mannings of this country signed up for: to defend our people from attack. It was a war based on a complete lie and lives were not only put in danger, hundreds of thousands of them were exterminated. For those who organised this massacre to point a finger at Bradley Manning is the ultimate example of Orwellian hypocrisy.”

.
Michael Moore

 

“Private Manning is the world’s pre-eminent prisoner of conscience, having remained true to the Nuremberg principle that every soldier has the right to ‘a moral choice.’ His suffering mocks the notion of the land of the free.”

.
John Pilger

 

 

Louis Stettner. 'Coming to America' c. 1951

 

Louis Stettner (American, b. 1922)
Coming  to America
c. 1951
Gelatin silver print The Jewish Museum, New York
Purchase: Photography Acquisitions Committee Fund

 

 

Louis Stettner (November 7, 1922 – October 13, 2016) was an American photographer of the 20th century whose work included streetscapes, portraits and architectural images of New York and Paris. His work has been highly regarded because of its humanity and capturing the life and reality of the people and streets. Starting in 1947, Stettner photographed the changes in the people, culture, and architecture of both cities. He continued to photograph New York and Paris up until his death. …

Back from the war Stettner joined the Photo League in New York. Stettner visited Paris in 1946 and in 1947 moved there. From 1947 to 1949 he studied at the “Institut des Hautes Études Cinématographiques” in Paris and received a Bachelor of Arts in Photography & Cinema. He went back and forth between New York and Paris for almost two decades and finally settled permanently in Saint-Ouen, near Paris, in 1990. Stettner still frequently returned to New York.

Stettner’s professional work in Paris began with capturing life in the post-war recovery. He captured the everyday lives of his subjects. In the tradition of the Photo League, he wanted to investigate the bonds that connect people to one another. In 1947 he was asked by the same Photo League to organise an exhibition of French photographers in New York. He gathered the works of some of the greatest photographers of the era, including Doisneau, Brassaï, Boubat, Izis, and Ronis. The show was a big success and was largely reviewed in the annual issue of U.S. Camera. Stettner had begun a series of regular meetings with Brassaï who was a great mentor and had significant influence on his work. In 1949, Stettner had his first exhibition at the “Salon des Indépendants” at the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.

In 1951 his work was included in the famous Subjektive Fotografie exhibition in Germany. During the 1950s he free-lanced for Time, Life, Fortune, and Du (Germany). While in Paris he reconnected with Paul Strand, who had also left New York because of the political intolerance of the McCarthy era – Strand had been a founder of the Photo League that would be blacklisted and then banned during those years.

In the 1970s Stettner spent more time in New York City, where he taught at Brooklyn College, Queens College, and Cooper Union.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Erika Stone (born 1924, Frankfurt, Germany) 'Lower Eastside Facade' 1947

 

Erika Stone (German, b. 1924)
Lower Eastside Facade
1947
Gelatin silver print
Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio, Photo League Collection
Museum purchase with funds provided by Elizabeth M. Ross, the Derby Fund,
John S. and Catherine Chapin Kobacker, and the Friends of the Photo League

 

 

Stone’s adroit cropping of this image emphasises the coy upward gaze of the woman in the advertisement, away from the laundry line (emblem of poverty), and suggests the social mobility of the postwar era.

 

Marvin E. Newman. 'Halloween, South Side' 1951

 

Marvin E. Newman (American, b. 1927)
Halloween, South Side
1951
Gelatin silver print
The Jewish Museum, New York
Purchase: Photography Acquisitions Committee Fund

 

 

Marvin Newman

Born in New York; Newman attended Brooklyn College, where he studied sculpture with Burgoyne Diller and photography with Walter Rosenblum. Following Rosenblum’s suggestion, he joined the Photo League in 1948, taking classes with John Ebstel. The Photo League, founded in 1936, blazed a trail for serious photographers for 15 years, providing a forum for ideas, cheap darkroom space, and the vision of using the art of picture taking to change the world. Newman then attended the Institute of Design, Chicago (1949-52), where, after studying with Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind, he received one of the first MS degrees in photography (1952).

During this time, Newman won national contests, including one sponsored by American Photography (1950) and another by Time, Inc. (1951). His work appeared in the Always a Young Stranger exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and in a one-man show at Roy De Carava’s A Photographer’s Gallery (1956). Well-known as a photojournalist, Newman has been a major contributor to Sports Illustrated since its inception (1953), as well as to Life, Look, Newsweek, and Smithsonian magazines. In addition, he has been the national president of the American Society of Magazine Photographers, authored or coauthored eight books on photography, and received the Art Director’s Gold Medal for Editorial Photography.

 

Ida Wyman (born 1926, Malden, Massachusetts) 'Spaghetti 25 Cents, New York' 1945

 

Ida Wyman (American, 1926-2019)
Spaghetti 25 Cents, New York
1945
Gelatin silver print
The Jewish Museum, New York
Purchase: Photography Acquisitions Committee Fund

 

 

This Italian restaurant was near the offices of Acme Newspictures, where Wyman became the company’s first female photo printer in 1943. After the war she lost her job at the agency. The “Ladies Invited” sign on the window is a reminder of a time when unescorted women were not always welcome in public dining establishments.

 

Ida Wyman

When I began working in the 1940s, few women were doing magazine photography in a field that was almost exclusively male. As I progressed from box camera to Speed Graphic (my first professional camera), and then to a Rolleiflex, I stopped thinking about the mechanics of film speed, f-stops, shutter speed, and began focusing on subject matter that interested me. What interested me so much were ordinary people and their everyday activities. Early on, I had documented children’s games and unusual architectural details in my Bronx neighbourhood. I decided to expand, to go elsewhere, taking the subway to Harlem, Chinatown, and lower Manhattan, exploring those neighbourhoods and looking for photos.

I became a member of the Photo League in 1946. I considered myself a documentary photographer and the League’s philosophy of honest photography appealed to me. I also began to understand the power of photos to help improve the social order by showing the conditions under which many people lived and worked. Even after leaving the League the following year, I continued to emphasise visual and social realities in my straightforward photographs.

Beginning with my earliest photos seeing New York City with my feet, and in whatever part of the country I was in, I continued my own walkabout, learning the area, engaging my subject, listening, and respecting their dignity. This continued to be my approach when taking photos. My photographs depicted daily life in America’s modern metropolitan centres, including Chicago and Los Angeles as well as New York.

 

Aaron Siskind. 'The Wishing Tree' 1937

 

Aaron Siskind (American, 1903-1991)
The Wishing Tree
1937, printed later
from Harlem Document, 1936-40
Gelatin silver print
The Jewish Museum, New York
Purchase: Lillian Gordon Bequest

 

 

Harlem’s legendary Wishing Tree, bringer of good fortune, was once a tall elm that stood outside a theatre at 132nd Street and Seventh Avenue. When it was cut down in 1934 Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, the celebrated tap dancer, moved the stump to a nearby block and planted a new Tree of Hope beside it to assume wish granting duties. A piece of the original trunk is preserved in the Apollo Theatre on 125th Street, where performers still touch it for luck before going onstage.

 

Sonia Handelman Meyer. 'Hebrew Immigration Aid Society' c. 1946

 

Sonia Handelman Meyer (American, b. 1920, Lakewood, New Jersey)
Hebrew Immigration Aid Society
c. 1946
Gelatin silver print
The Jewish Museum, New York
Purchase: Mimi and Barry J. Alperin in memory of Max Alperin

 

 

The efforts of the New York­ based Hebrew Immigration Aid Society (HIAS) to rescue European Jews during the war were severely hampered by US immigration laws. After the war it aided in the resettlement of some 150,000 displaced persons, including, presumably, these three, whom Handelman Meyer has chosen to photograph in close-­up. She conveys both their common suffering and their individuality, emphasising differences in body language and dress.

 

Sonia Handelman Meyer

I first heard of the Photo League from Lou Stoumen in Puerto Rico in 1942. I was working for the U.S. Army Signal Corps and Lou was preparing to join Yank Magazine. When I returned to New York City, I walked up the rickety stairs to League Headquarters and took a beginners class with Johnny Ebstel. I bought a used Rolleicord for a precious $100, and dared to go out on the city streets to photograph the life around me. Soon the guys began to come back from the war and the heady life of Photo League workshops, exhibits, lectures, photo hunts, and committee assignments intensified. I took eye-heart-soul opening workshops with Sid Grossman, worked as the paid (!) secretary for a year or so, and worked on the Lewis Hine Committee under Marynn Ausubel.

I photographed in Spanish Harlem, Greenwich Village, midtown Manhattan, at the Hebrew Immigration Aid Society, at an anti-lynching rally in Madison Square Park, at a Jehovah’s Witness convention in Yankee Stadium, and on Coney Island. Mostly, I photographed children and reflections of my city – rough-edged, tender, and very beautiful in its diversity. Some of this work was shown in the major 1949 exhibition, This is the Photo League.

The heartbreaking end of the League coincided with a huge change in my personal life. I got married and my husband began to go to college and we were out of NY for a while. And then the biggest change: our own family arrived and the joys of our son, and later our daughter, absorbed my time. Prints and negatives were stashed away in boxes and I lost track of all the old friends at the League. After so many years of being in the shadows, you can imagine my pleasure, at 90+ years of age, to have my photographs out of their boxes and onto walls where they can be seen, thought about, and enjoyed – and perhaps again take their place in the history of the Photo League.

 

Arthur Leipzig. 'Chalk Games, Prospect Place, Brooklyn' 1950

 

Arthur Leipzig (American, 1918-2014)
Chalk Games, Prospect Place, Brooklyn
1950
Gelatin silver print
The Jewish Museum, New York
Purchase: Rictavia Schiff Bequest

 

Arnold Eagle. 'Chatham Square Platform, New York City' c. 1939

 

Arnold Eagle (Hungarian-American, 1909-1992)
Chatham Square Platform, New York City
c. 1939
Silver gelatin print

 

Joe Schwartz. 'Slums Must Go! May Day Parade, New York' c. 1936

 

Joe Schwartz (American, 1913-2013)
Slums Must Go! May Day Parade, New York
c. 1936
Gelatin silver print
Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio, Photo League Collection
Museum Purchase with funds provided by Elizabeth M. Ross, the Derby Fund, John S. and Catherine Chapin
Kobacker, and the Friends of the Photo League

 

Morris Huberland. 'Union Square, New York' c. 1942

 

Morris Huberland (Polish-American, 1909-2003 born Warsaw, Poland)
Union Square, New York
c. 1942
Gelatin silver print
The Jewish Museum, New York
Purchase: Mimi and Barry J. Alperin Fund

 

 

The Norton Museum of Art’s newest special exhibition, The Radical Camera: New York’s Photo League, 1936 – 1951, is a formidable survey of the League’s history, and its artistic, cultural, social, and political significance. Opening March 14 and on view through June 16, 2013, this striking exhibition includes nearly 150 vintage photographs from Photo League collections at the Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio, and The Jewish Museum in New York City.

The exhibition is organised by Mason Klein, Curator of Fine Arts at The Jewish Museum and Catherine Evans, the William and Sarah Ross Soter Curator of Photography of the Columbus Museum of Art. It premiered in at The Jewish Museum in 2011 to rave reviews. The New York Times called The Radical Camera a “stirring show,” and the New York Photo Review hailed it as “nothing short of splendid.” The New Yorker named the exhibition one of the top 10 photography exhibitions of 2011. The Norton is the final venue on the exhibition’s tour.

The exhibition explores the fascinating blend of aesthetics and social activism at the heart of the Photo League. League members were known for capturing sharply revealing, compelling moments from everyday life. The League focused on New York City and its vibrant streets – a shoeshine boy, a brass band on a bustling corner, a crowded beach at Coney Island. Many of the images are beautiful, yet harbour strong social commentary on issues of class, race, and opportunity. The organisation’s members included some of the most noted photographers of the mid-20th century – W. Eugene Smith, Weegee (Arthur Fellig), Lisette Model, Berenice Abbott and Aaron Siskind, to name a few.

In 1936, a group of young, idealistic photographers, most of them Jewish, first-generation Americans, formed an organisation in Manhattan called the Photo League. Their solidarity centred on a belief in the expressive power of the documentary photograph, and on a progressive alliance in the 1930s of socialist ideas and art. (The Photo League also helped validate photography as a fine art, presenting student work and guest exhibitions by established photographers.) The Radical Camera presents the development of the documentary photograph during a tumultuous period that spanned the New Deal reforms of the Depression, World War II, and the Cold War. Offering classes, mounting exhibitions, and fostering community, members of the Photo League focused on social reform and the power of the photograph to motivate change. At the height of their influence, their membership included the most important photographers of their day including Berenice Abbot, Aaron Siskind, Barbara Morgan, Sid Grossman, Weegee (Arthur Fellig), and Lisette Model. Featuring more than 175 works by these artists as well as many more Photo League members, The Radical Camera traces the organisation’s interests, attitudes toward photography, and impact during its 15-year lifespan.

The innovative contributions of the Photo League during its 15-year existence (1936-1951) were significant. As it grew, the League mirrored monumental shifts in the world starting with the Depression, through World War II, and ending with the Red Scare. Born of the worker’s movement, the Photo League was an organisation of young, idealistic, first-generation American photographers, most of them Jewish, who believed in documentary photography as an expressive medium and powerful tool for exposing social problems. It was also a school with teachers such as Sid Grossman, who encouraged students to take their cameras to the streets and discover the meaning of their work as well as their relationship to it. The League had a darkroom for printing, published an acclaimed newsletter called Photo Notes, offered exhibition space, and was a place to socialise.

The Photo League helped validate photography as a fine art, presenting student work and guest exhibitions by established photographers such as Eugène Atget, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Edward Weston, among others. These affecting black and white photographs show life as it was lived mostly on the streets, sidewalks and subways of New York. Joy and playfulness as well as poverty and hardship are in evidence. In addition to their urban focus, “Leaguers” photographed rural America, and during World War II, took their cameras to Latin America and Europe. The exhibition also addresses the active participation of women who found rare access and recognition at the League. The Radical Camera presents the League within a critical, historical context. Developments in photojournalism were catalysing a new information era in which photo essays were appearing for the first time in magazines such as Life and Look. As time went on, its social documentary roots evolved toward a more experimental approach, laying the foundation for the next generation of street photographers.

In 1947, the League came under the pall of McCarthyism and was blacklisted for its alleged involvement with the Communist Party. Ironically, the Photo League had just begun a national campaign to broaden its base as a “Center for American Photography.” Despite the support of Ansel Adams, Beaumont and Nancy Newhall, Paul Strand, and many other national figures, this vision of a national photography centre could not overcome the Red Scare. As paranoia and fear spread, the Photo League was forced to disband in 1951. The Radical Camera: New York’s Photo League, 1936-1951 has been organised by The Jewish Museum, New York, and the Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio. Major support was provided by the Phillip and Edith Leonian Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Limited Brands Foundation.”

Press release from The Norton Museum of Art website

 

Sy Kattelson. 'Untitled (Subway Car)' 1949

 

Sy Kattelson (American, 1923-2018)
Untitled (Subway Car)
1949
Gelatin silver print
The Jewish Museum, New York
Purchase: The Paul Strand Trust for the benefit of Virginia Stevens Gift

 

Jerome Liebling. 'Butterfly Boy, New York' 1949

 

Jerome Liebling (American, 1924-2011)
Butterfly Boy, New York
1949
Gelatin silver print
The Jewish Museum, New York, Purchase: Mimi and Barry J. Alperin Fund
© Estate of Jerome Liebling

 

Lee Sievan. 'Salvation Army Lassie in Front of a Woolworth Store' c. 1940

 

Lee Sievan (American, 1907-1990)
Salvation Army Lassie in Front of a Woolworth Store
c. 1940
Gelatin silver print
The Jewish Museum, New York
Purchase: Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Fund

 

 

This is a classic photograph. Look at the triangle that forms the central part of the image, from the girl at left looking with disdain at the matriarch singing then down to the look on the organ players face. Notice the girl at right covering her ears so she cannot hear the racket. Imagine the legs of the organ player going up and down, pumping air into the organ; and finally observe the shadow of a man’s face captured by reflection in the shop window as he walks past the scene. Magic.

 

Rosalie Gwathmey. 'Shout Freedom, Charlotte, North Carolina' c. 1948

 

Rosalie Gwathmey (American, 1908-2001)
Shout Freedom, Charlotte, North Carolina
c. 1948
Gelatin silver print
The Jewish Museum, New York
Purchase: Gay Block and Malka Drucker Fund of the Houston Jewish Community Foundation

 

Weegee (Arthur Fellig). 'Max Is Rushing in the Bagels to a Restaurant on Second Avenue for the Morning Trade' c. 1940

 

Weegee (Arthur Fellig) (American, born Ukraine, 1899-1968)
Max Is Rushing in the Bagels to a Restaurant on Second Avenue for the Morning Trade
c. 1940
Gelatin silver print
The Jewish Museum, New York
Purchase: Joan B. and Richard L. Barovick Family Foundation and Bunny and Jim Weinberg Gifts

 

Bernard Cole. 'Shoemaker’s Lunch' 1944

 

Bernard Cole (1911-1992, born London, England)
Shoemaker’s Lunch
1944
Gelatin silver print
The Jewish Museum, New York,
Purchase: The Paul Strand Trust for the benefit of Virginia Stevens Gift

 

Rebecca Lepkoff. 'Broken Window on South Street, New York' 1948

 

Rebecca Lepkoff (American, 1916-2014)
Broken Window on South Street, New York
1948
Gelatin silver print
The Jewish Museum, New York
Purchase: Esther Leah Ritz Bequest

 

Arthur Leipzig. 'Ideal Laundry' 1946

 

Arthur Leipzig (American, 1918-2014)
Ideal Laundry
1946
Gelatin silver print
The Jewish Museum, New York
Purchase: Esther Leah Ritz Bequest

 

Consuelo Kanaga. 'Untitled (Tenements, New York)' c. 1937

 

Consuelo Kanaga (American, 1894-1978)
Untitled (Tenements, New York)
c. 1937
Gelatin silver print
The Jewish Museum, New York
Purchase: The Paul Strand Trust for the benefit of Virginia Stevens Gift

 

 

Leftist political activism was a strong element in Kanaga’s work, beginning with her photographs of a labor strike in San Francisco in 1934. She provided photographs for progressive publications such as New Masses, Labor Defender, and Sunday Worker. Underlying this formal study of tenement laundry lines (a common motif in League imagery) is Kanaga’s empathy for the living conditions of the working class.

 

Ruth Orkin, 'Boy Jumping into Hudson River' 1948

 

Ruth Orkin (American, 1921-1985)
Boy Jumping into Hudson River
1948
Gelatin silver print The Jewish Museum, New York
Purchase: Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Fund

 

Sol Prom (Solomon Fabricant). 'Untitled (Dancing School)' 1938

 

Sol Prom (Solomon Fabricant) (American, 1906-1989)
Untitled (Dancing School)
1938
from Harlem Document, 1936-40
Gelatin silver print
The Jewish Museum, New York
Purchase: Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Fund

 

 

Mary Bruce opened a dancing school in Harlem in 1937. For fifty years she taught ballet and tap, giving free lessons to those who could not afford them. Her illustrious pupils included Katherine Dunham, Nat King Cole, Ruby Dee, and Marlon Brando.

 

 

The Norton Museum of Art
1451 S. Olive Avenue
West Palm Beach, FL 33401
Phone: (561) 832-5196

Opening hours:

Tuesday 10am – 5pm
Wednesday 10am – 5pm
Thursday 10am – 9pm
Friday 10am – 5pm
Saturday 10am – 5pm
Sunday 11am – 5pm

Closed Mondays

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06
Feb
10

Review: Jenny Holzer at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA), Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 17th December 2009 – 28th February 2010

 

 

Jenny Holzer (American, b. 1950)
Projections
Various dates
With poetry by Wislawa Szymborska

 

 

“I draw from everything – from the National Security Archives collection to old material from the FBI’s website to postings by the ACLU. I concentrate on the content. It tends to be very rough material about what’s happened to soldiers in the field, about the good and bad choices they’ve been forced to make, and what has happened to detainees and civilians. I also go to material that’s almost completely gone, either whited out or blacked out, because that represents the issue. You don’t have to spill words when the page is completely black.”

.
Jenny Holzer

 

 

This is a patchy but ultimately redemptive exhibition by Jenny Holzer at the Australia Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA), Melbourne. The main exhibition space at ACCA is filled with one installation created specifically for the space titled For ACCA (2009) that in essence is the same as the installation for The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MOCA)(see photographs above).

The work is projected by a Cameleon Teleprojecteur into the large space and features poems by Wislawa Szymborska with titles such as “The End and the Beginning”, “The Joy of Writing”, “Children of Our Age” and “The Terrorist, He’s Watching” scrolling a la Star Wars opening credits from the bottom upwards into the darkened space. The words that flow into the mis en scene are distorted at the edges like a fish eye lens distorts reality. EVERYTHING IS IN CAPITAL LETTERS TO EMPHASISE THE IMPORTANCE OF THE WORDS, JUST IN CASE WE MISSED THE POINT. It feels like you have been metaphorically hit over the head with the artist’s concern and frankly, I soon lost interest in the mobilisation of meaning:

 

“I don’t require changes
from the surf,
now diligent, now sluggish,
obeying not me.”

“The Bomb in the bar
will explode at thirteen twenty
Now it’s just thirteen sixteen
There’s still time
for some to go in,
and some to come out.”

“There’s one thing
I won’t agree to:
My own return.
The privilege of presence –
I give it up.”

“I survived you by enough,
and only by enough,
to contemplate from afar – “

“After Every War
Someone has to tidy up.
Things won’t pick
themselves up, after all.”

 

More interesting are the 4 bean bags placed on the floor that are covered in matt grey heat sensitive fabric. As you sit in the bags your indentation heats up the fabric. Upon standing the mark of your body, your body temperature, forms silver Yves Klein-like paintings of glowing phosphorescence. Looking back into the projector from your recumbent position you get an eerie view of the words coming towards you on the floor and going away on the ceiling, your body illuminated in words. What spoils the installation for me is the didactic nature of the protestations, their proselytising soon wearing thin on a body more attuned to the pithy, insightful phrases of Barbara Kruger.

The electronic sculpture Torso (see image below) “emphatically addresses the private body enmeshed and lost in information and government operations.” (catalogue text). Featuring 10 doubled LED projectors programmed with case files of American soldiers accused of war crimes in the Middle East, abuse questions of detainees, ‘For Official Use Only’ texts and personal messages of love the sculpture is at first seen from a distance, framed by two rectangular doorways of the previous galleries. The mainly blue background and pink lettered light emanating from the sculpture is beautiful and quite magical and as one enters the empty space of the gallery the light focuses the eyes on the moving words, their repetition, their flashing, their running at different speeds and colours, all with the same message  – words that seem to appear out of the wall and disappear back into it. The effect soon wears thin however; when you delve into the guts of the torso fascination begins to wane and you are left with repetition for repetition’s sake and with ‘pretty’ words that are just that: patterns of perniciousness displayed for our pleasure.

The reason that you must visit this exhibition is the last body of work. Working with declassified documents that relate to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan Holzer’s Redaction paintings address the elemental force that is man’s (in)humanity to man (in the study of literature, redaction is a form of editing in which multiple source texts are combined (redacted) and subjected to minor alteration to make them into a single work).1 Silkscreen printed as oil on canvas these paintings are some of the most poignant, moving, terrifying, enraging pieces of art that I have seen in a long time. I was moved to tears. They are tough works and they deserve to be.

Autopsy reports, a “Wish List” for alternative interrogation techniques (Wish List/Gloves Off 2007), a handwritten letter from an Iraq student detailing his experience of torture (By the Name of God 2006) and palm prints –  (some totally illegible as the censor eradicates human identity, erases with a double violence – to the person themselves, to the validation that they existed) – document a government’s malfeasance.

What a word malfeasance!
Etymology: mal- + obsolete feasance doing, execution ….

In these paintings the artist pulls back and lets the work speak for itself – and it is all the more powerful because of this. Using the physical process of the hand in the making of these images implicates every one of us in the complicities of the faceless bureaucrats and military personnel that hide behind blacked out names. The most moving of the hand prints are the partial prints taken after death where some ‘body’ has pressed down the deceased detainees hand to make an impression, mapping an identity already deleted (Faint Hand 2007 – unfortunately I don’t have any images of these paintings to show you). One is even presented as it was taken, upside down (Right Hand Down 2007). These are indescribable images, they tear you up inside.

I left the exhibition feeling shell-shocked after experiencing intimacy with an evil that leaves few traces. In the consciences of the perpetrators? In the hearts of the living! Oh, how I wish to see the day when the human race will truly evolve beyond. We live in hope and the work of Jenny Holzer reminds us to be vigilant, to speak out, to have courage in the face of the unconscionable.

Dr Marcus Bunyan for Art Blart

.
Many thankx to the Australia Centre for Contemporary Art for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

“Date of birth; 1947
Date/time of Death: 26 Nov 2003
Circumstances of Death: This Iraq  _____  died in U.S. custody”

 

“We are American soldiers, heirs to a long tradition of staying on the high ground. We need to stay there.”

 

Jenny Holzer (American, b. 1950) 'Torso' 2007

 

Jenny Holzer (American, b. 1950)
Torso
2007
LED projectors

 

 

Holzer became well-known in the 1980s for her text-based works and public art. Her first series, Truisms (1977-79), contains concise, aphoristic statements that reveal and question truths, beliefs, and ideologies. While Truisms first appeared on posters placed in the urban environment, Holzer’s texts later took a number of forms including light projections on high-profile public buildings, LED (light emitting diode) signs, stickers placed on surfaces such as parking metres and telephone booths, and public furniture such as marble and granite benches. While Holzer still at times relies on the thirteen texts she wrote from 1977-2001, her recent practice has turned to incorporating the writings of others, including works by internationally celebrated poets and declassified government documents. Like her own texts, the borrowed writings and documents address personal and public calamities in a range of voices and tones that approximates the complexity of daily life.

Though Holzer has used words and ideas in public spaces for the past thirty years, she has also created large-scale projects for prominent institutions such as the Guggenheim Museum (New York), the Guggenheim Museum (Bilbao), the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York), and the Centre Pompidou (Paris).

For ACCA’s main exhibition hall, Holzer will project poetry in the form of light onto the floors, ceilings, and walls, making the language something felt as well as read. In addition, she will display works from a series that began in 2005 where she translates declassified government documents into paintings. The documents are left exactly as they were found when rendered through silkscreen onto oil-painted grounds. The marks of a censor are seen in the text blocked out by a black scribble or box. These works come, as Holzer has said, from her “frantic worrying about the war and attendant changes in American society.” The projections and paintings will be supplemented by an LED installation titled Torso. In this work, Holzer stacks ten semi-circular signs that display in red, blue, white, and purple light the statements, investigation reports, and emails from case files of soldiers accused of various crimes in the Middle East. Providing these voices, part damning, contradictory, sympathetic, anecdotal, and evidentiary, Holzer layers accounts of abuse and blame.

“Jenny Holzer’s words ask us to consider our thoughts and actions in the world. This essentially humanist and philosophical project encourages us to seek self enlightenment through examining our prejudices, false beliefs, fall back positions, and habits, to reach a new level of tolerance, understanding and self awareness”

Juliana Engberg, ACCA’s Artistic Director

Text from the ACCA website [Online] Cited 01/06/2010 no longer available online

 

 

Jenny Holzer (American, b. 1950)
Left Hand (Palm Rolled)
2007
Oil on linen
80 x 62 in. (203.2 x 157.5 cm)
Text: U.S. government document

 

 

“What truly adds substance to the style are the Redaction Paintings. These blown-up pieces of censored materials, silk-screened on to stretched canvas, afford an unnerving glimpse at how we fight wars. Authored by countless bureaucratic functionaries, they feel both predictable and eye-opening.

All of the embedded journalists in the world couldn’t produce as clear a picture as the government did in documenting its own malfeasance. Many of these documents feature the blurred type of countless reproductions, a sign that time is burying these paperwork tragedies until they become illegible and unactionable.

Holzer didn’t have to doctor these documents for heightened effect; the black bars that enshroud the names of victims and their tormentors speak for themselves. One autopsy report describes the fatal suffocation of a prisoner of war forced to maintain a stress position. In some cases nearly whole documents are ominously blacked out, like a national Rorschach test.”2

 

 

Jenny Holzer (American, b. 1950)
DODDOACID 008769
2007
Oil on linen

 

 

Jenny Holzer (American, b. 1950)
Right Hand (Palm Rolled)
2007
Oil on linen
80 x 62 in. (203.2 x 157.5 cm)
Text: U.S. government document

 

 

Jenny Holzer (American, b. 1950)
Wish List/Gloves Off
2006
Oil on linen

 

 

“WISH LIST” document:

A captain in the US Army human intelligence division requested a “wish list” from subordinate interrogation teams for, “innovative interrogation techniques that will prove more successful than current methods.” One person interpreted this request to mean, “the captain wanted suggestions legal, illegal and somewhere in between.” The WISH LIST document is a summary of alternative interrogation techniques that the 4th Infantry Division, ICE, devised, including phone book strikes, low voltage electrocution and muscle fatigue inducement.

The document can be found on the American Civil Liberties Union website. The “WISH LIST” is on p. 59.”3

 

Footnotes

  1. Definition of redaction on Wikipedia website [Online] Cited 6 February 2010
  2. Arizona, Daniel. “Jenny Holzer and the Influence of Anxiety,” on More Intelligent Life.com website [Online] Cited January 2010 no longer available online
  3. Anon. “Jenny Holzer Projections.” on the MASS MOCA website [Online] Cited 17 January 2010 no longer available online

 

 

Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA)
111 Sturt Street
Southbank
Victoria 3006
Australia

Opening hours:
Tuesday to Friday 10am – 5pm
Weekends and Public Holidays 11am – 5pm
Closed Monday
Open all public holidays except Christmas Day and Good Friday

Australian Centre for Contemporary Art website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, a photographic archive and form of cultural memory, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Orphans and small groups’ 1994-96 Part 2

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