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)

Currently Trending

Advertise here !!!

The Collages Of David Kettner

David Kettner of Philadelphia, has amassed an incredible array of work from over 50 years of art-making on his new website. The conclusion of his tenure as the head of both the Fine Arts and Drawing/Painting program at the University of the Arts has given birth to a cataloging of his life’s work. In reference to his recent work, he provides a concise objective:

“The priority… is to secure a paradoxical and maybe enigmatic alliance between the world of the child and the world of the adult.”

Currently Trending

Advertise here !!!

A Love Letter for You- Quasi-Documentary from Stephen Powers and Joey Garfield Re-Caps The Love Letter Project

On the heels of his current solo show at Joshua Liner Gallery, Steve “ESPO” Powers came through the Tribeca Grand Hotel with Joey Garfield for a screening of A Love Letter for You, their documentary/narrative film about the much-celebrated Love Letter mural project that went down in Philly about two years ago. The film brings ESPO and the Love Letter squad into a semi-fictional narrative surrounding a young writer’s quest to reach a special someone, and is a huge treat for any graffiti/mural/underdog fan. Put together with some archive ESPO footage, an original script co-written by Powers, and a killer shoegazey soundtrack, LL4U will hit you right in the heartstrings. No use even trying to fight it.

Until the film finds a much-deserved wider release, you can catch the trailer after the jump.

Currently Trending

Kyle Fisher’s Autonomous Grain

 

Philadelphia’s Kyle Fisher creates paintings on wood that move in and out of the grain with a mind of their own, compositions that present themselves boldly to the world while receding into contemplative distance all at once.

Deliberate, but slickly nonchalant, they could totally pass as the love-child of an Audrey Kawaski ageless vixen and a Mr. Jago aerosol android. But that description wouldn’t go anywhere near properly crediting these immersive works, which stand well enough on their own.

Fisher is a co-founder of Part Time Studios, a great gallery/collective in Philly.

Currently Trending

ARMANDO VEVE

Philadelphia-based Armando Veve‘s impressive body of work shows his ability, and eagerness, to explore several different drawing methods, from the naive to the refined. In doing so, he leaves no doubt to the viewer that he makes a choice, and executes that choice with clear intent. He doesn’t seem to have many limitations. He also dabbles in ceramics, curation, and digital abstractions. At this pace, his work will only get better and better, and endless gifts will be bestowed upon us just for looking.

Currently Trending

Bill McRight- Images From the Forgotten Past

Bill McRight, of Philly powerhouse Space 1026, employs gnarly printmaking skills in the creation of images not confined to a place in time. In McRight’s work, Garish figures sans-pupils populate a stark environment of violence, movement, and open mouths containing sharp teeth. But it all looks so good that the reaction of the viewer is inclined toward pleasure rather than pain.

Currently Trending

JASON RUSNOCK

New Jersey/Philadelphia-based photographer Jason Rusnock has just that right mix of humor, beauty, simplicity, and charm to ensure that his pragmatic shots won’t go unremembered. In an age of photography that falls so heavily upon who has the best chops at Photoshop, or who has the most money to buy this 200-megapixel monster, Rusnock hunkers down with his 35mm rolls and rocks out on formal arrangements and the intrigues of everyday life. In the post below, I’ve done my best to retain the notion of relational precision he hunts after daily, but for a better sense of his arrangements, see here and more generally here. He doesn’t just stop at photos, oh no, he can make a mean video, drawing, sound, or sculpture, and one of his latest series explores the medium of sequential art (no doubt stemming from his love of comics). Rock on.

Currently Trending

Andy Rementer

003

Andy Rementer is a designer by day and aspiring cartoonist by night. This Philadelphia based artist is the creator of Techno Tuesday, a clever comic about technology and the modern world. He has also done animations for the 2010 Virgin London Marathon that you can check out after the cut.

Currently Trending