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Nobody Notices Artist Lays Dead In A Public Park To Protest Michael Brown’s Killing

protest11protest12protest2In the wake of the murder of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri by a policeman, and the subsequent protests of police brutality, tensions have been high among many communities. On Saturday August 16 in Philadelphia, artist activists draped yellow CAUTION ribbon around the iconic LOVE statue in Love Park and actor Keith Wallace positioned himself face-down in front of the statue, wearing a white t-shirt that appeared to be stained with blood, as if he were shot from behind. Standing near him, two people alternated the holding of a sign that read “Call Us By Our Names.” For an hour, Wallace lay in front of the emblematic, tourist-attracting statue – all the while, tourists continued to pose in front of the statue, usually while framing Wallace out of the photo, or blocking the view of his body in some way.

For Wallace, an idea like this had been brewing for quite some time. “I just tried to think about a way I could use my spirit of activism coupled with my artistic passion to make a statement about what’s going on. So I just decided that for me, I’m a very image-driven artist. I think images speak louder than words can, most times. And so there’s some value in forcing a society to look at the most ugly parts of itself and just putting it out there for them to examine and discussed, and to be disgusted by, in the hopes of provoking some sort of dialogue or provoking some social change in an effort to eradicate some social ill, whatever that is.”

The phrase “Call Us By Our Names” was born from the knowledge that though we know the names of victims like Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin, there are countless other victims of police brutality whose faces go unrecognized and unnamed. “I was tired,” Wallace says. “No, we’re NOT thugs, we’re not this, we’re not that. We’re unarmed citizens, so call us who we are. Call us by our names. Say ‘Michael Brown’ instead of ‘unarmed robbery suspect.’ When you give a face and a name to a victim, the public becomes socially responsible in a different way.”

According to Lee Edward Colston, a theater student who was helping with the protest, visitors to the statue expressed a variety of feelings and opinions. “There was an older white couple that wanted to take a picture in front of the LOVE statue,” recounts Colston. “The older white gentleman said, ‘Why do they have to shove their politics down our throats?’ The woman replied, ‘They’re black kids, honey. They don’t have anything better to do.'” In another account, Colston says, “There was one group of white guys who wanted to take a picture in front of the statue, but one of the guys in the group couldn’t take his eyes off of Keith’s body. His friends were trying to convince him to get in the picture. He told his friends, ‘Something about this doesn’t feel right, guys. I don’t think we should.’ One of his friends replied, ‘Dude, come on … he’s already dead.’ Then they all laughed.” Additionally, “There was a guy who yelled at us… ‘We need more dead like them. Yay for the white man!’

Colston did relate two more positive reactions to the performance. Recounting one, he says, “One young guy just cried and then gave me a hug and said ‘thank you. It’s nice to know SOMEBODY sees me.’” And in another, “There was a Latina woman with two young boys. She held her boys’ hands and said to them, ‘I want you to see this. This is important. Never be afraid to tell the truth.'”

Accompanying the silent protest, a sheet of paper was handed out that included information about rights and responsibilities, and a statement that partially reads, “I am racially charged not because I want to be, but because I have to be. I am racially charged because in certain instances, that hyper awareness may ensure that I make it home to my family at the end of the day. I am racially charged because I am not afforded the luxury to wander through life with my head in the (nonexistent) ‘post-racial America’ clouds. I see color because my color is seen, dismissed, devalued, and implicated as a threat everywhere I go. I am racially charged and if I make you uncomfortable by speaking out about it and calling attention to it, then I implore you to eradicate the ugliness I see every day in the world.” (via ra’s al ghul is dead, thinkprogress, philadelphia magazine)

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Melissa Manfull

LA-based artist Melissa Manfull‘s watercolors and drawings are all at once architectural and abstract. And, wouldn’t you know it, modern architecture and colorful, geometric art are two of my favorite things. Manfull has studied and practiced studio art both in the US and Canada, but she is now living and work in Los Angeles, California, USA. She has had a few solo exhibitions, and is currently represented by Taylor de Cordoba Gallery.

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Irina Werning Takes Us Back To The Future

Irina Werning’s Back To The Future project is one of the best executed recreation series I’ve seen in a long time. Here’s Irina describing the project in his own words “I love old photos. I admit being a nosey photographer. As soon as I step into someone else’s house, I start sniffing for them. Most of us are fascinated by their retro look but to me, it’s imagining how people would feel and look like if they were to reenact them today… A few months ago, I decided to actually do this. So, with my camera, I started inviting people to go back to their future.”

Want to reenact your own childhood photo? Irina is giving you a chance! Visit Irina’s site for more info on how you can go back to the future with a lil help by our friend Mr.Camera.

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Documentary Watch: Rashid Johnson

 

 

How does an artist contribute his own personal story in the face of prevailing historical narratives? In this film, Rashid Johnson discusses the fluid nature of black identity in America and its escapist tendencies, from the Afrocentric politics of Marcus Garvey to the cosmic philosophy of Sun Ra. Johnson’s invented secret society—”The New Negro Escapist Social and Athletic Club”—is a framework through which the artist humorously upends, through repetition and juxtaposition, conventional expectations of historical influence and legacy. Inspired by a story by the artist Lawrence Weiner in which one character says to another that “a table is something to put something on,” Johnson creates sculptures of shelf-like structures from materials such as black wax, mirror, tile, and branded wood. Each structure is filled with culturally resonant objects—such as Miles Davis and Ramsey Lewis jazz records, books by comedians Dick Gregory and Bill Cosby, and treatises by scholars such as W.E.B. Du Bois and Debra J. Dickerson—as well as the artist’s own photographs and hand-made objects.  Watch the full documentary after the jump.

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Juana Gomez Embroiders Human Anatomy On Top Of Faded Photographs Of The Body

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Juana Gomez is a Chilean artist who embroiders the central nervous system over faded photographs of the human body. The images arrive from Gomez’s dreams, as well as her lifelong fascination for archaeology and artifacts. After printing her photos on fabric, she goes in with a needle and thread and stitches veins, musculature, and neural pathways that flow together in a harmonious network. Her work is somewhat reminiscent of anatomy studies from the Italian Renaissance, exploring an ages-old fascination for the human body.

Gomez’s works are scientific in form and ritualistic in creation, melding together the organic and inorganic world with accuracy and a flowing reverence. By translating images of the body into thread and ghostly outlines, she reveals the complexity and beauty of our anatomy; the interconnected lines and patterns she sews can be seen in river tributaries, tree branches, streets, and even Internet traffic. She calls these similar systems a “common language” that connects the biological, social, and cultural realms, as well as the internal world with the external (Source). The result is a spiritual exploration of the body that connects our corporeal selves with the systems that exist within and beyond its boundaries.

You can see more of Gomez’s work on her website, Artsy page, and Instagram. (Via My Amp Goes to 11)

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Dana Schutz

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Colorfully playful yet dark and sometimes sinister, Dana Schutz’s paintings will make you laugh with joy and cringe in disgust all at once. I recently came across a very interesting article about a painting she did in 2005 entitled ‘The Autopsy of Michael Jackson’ – I know, I’m a few months late on this one, but it’s still worth a look.

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Melissa Godoy-Nieto’s Uses Traditional Mexican Imagery In Untraditional Ways

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Melissa Godoy-Nieto is a multidisciplinary Mexican artist and designer based in Brooklyn, NY.  Born in Tijuana, Mexico, Godoy-Nieto incorporates pre-hispanic history, art and hieroglyphics with traditional crafts and materials that she uses in untraditional ways.  For her installation at SPRING/BREAK art fair earlier this year Godoy-Nieto painted the inside of a closet with a bright mix of mystical South American imagery, focusing partly on life, and partly on death.  Though she references the vibrant palate, dynamic and hand crafted aesthetic of Mexican culture, her works employ unusual techniques and structures, making the final product relevant and contemporary.

Her “textiles,” which she refers to as paintings, incorporate imagery from traditional Mexican imagery and patterns, but are made with untraditional materials.  Taking the concept a step further, Godoy-Nieto will sometimes link her paintings to spray paint cans using hand-dyed yarn and pushpins.  Describing the works as “experimental murals,” Godoy-Nieto toys with a viewer’s sense of how the work was made; conventional imagery is presented as being created in an unconventional way.  Initially, a viewer might believe the work is made with spray paint, but then he realizes the spray paint is yarn and had nothing to do with forming the actual image.  By challenging expectation and altering dimension, Godoy-Nieto’s process directs the way in which a viewer might interact with or perceive the work, and thus the way he might consider traditional iconography within a contemporary context.

Godoy-Nieto is also the co-founder of The Poetry Club Art Space and Head Visual artist for The Tablets.

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Maria Rubinke’s Bloody Porcelain Sculptures Embody The Terrors Of Dark Forests And Nightmares

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Maria Rubinke‘s porcelain sculptures are part Precious Moments, part Chucky — these are not your grandmother’s figurines. They instead embody all the terrors of the dark forest at night, the kind that Hansel and Gretel might have walked. Like fairy tales of yore, mishap after mishap seem to happen to these children. They wander the woods and lose an eye, or they sit in a bloody bathtub with a shark for a playmate. The calamities that befall Rubinke’s chubby cheeked cherubs seem endless.

One piece, “In between, with a fading dream,” depicts a young girl in a grove of inky black poisonous mushrooms, a frog — perhaps also poisonous — perched on her head. Though described as a dream, the scene is nothing short of nightmarish.

In the days leading up to Halloween, leave a little room in your nightmares for Rubinke’s vacant-eyed children. (via Cross Connect Magazine)

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