I’ve been asked why I chose to make the above piece regarding racism. I didn’t exactly. I made a piece called “The Residue of Arrogance” which was mostly about my growing discontent with the United States and my choice to spend most of my time abroad. That decision had a lot to do with the direction in which my country has moved post 9/11. Certainly racism plays a role in those objections, but it was a much broader view of many consequences.
The thing that I find most interesting about the piece is what it has shown me. Many people have concluded that the piece is about racism. I imagine it has to do with my choice of using an African American model. Had I used a white model, I assume people’s reading of it would be different. However, based on people’s reactions, it is entirely clear how most people view the United States. Juxtapose an American Flag and an African American and the conclusion many people will make is that it is, of course, about racism. That’s how connected the image of the United States is to racism, it’s something people assume. What I was trying to convey was an erosion of freedoms and self censorship in a post 9/11 America. However, even in 2017 (which is when I made the original piece) the simple addition of a different skin color leads many people to assume an entirely different meaning. So, in it’s conception it wasn’t focused on racism, but in it’s reception it has become very much about race. This is how the piece talks back to me about it’s context.
As an artist, you begin to see the complexity of representation. In my mind the figure in the piece was simply an individual, an American. Yet because the figure is African American, to many people, the “individual” becomes a representation of an entire race of people. Isn’t that exactly what racism is? When people’s individual identity is eclipsed by their race?
Tag Archives: flag
I did this piece a few weeks back for the “truisms- a tribute to jenny holtzer” show @ Space Gallery
After this past weeks elections I am more firmly planted in these assertions.
Below is the text on this piece.
You drink beer
and watch the NFL because it mirrors your approach to conflict.
You over-consume and under achieve.
You think you are this nation.
You think you are the heir to this nation.
You have traded our legacy for mitigated fear and complacency.
You distrust intellectuals and aspire to stagnation.
You rent spaces to store things you never needed.
You elect simple men to guide you through a complex world.
You cry to mandate a language you haven’t mastered.
You’re afraid of everything.
You watch TV
You let men with lapel mics tell you why you’re angry and who you’re angry with.
You fly by, drop bombs and expect to leave freedom and democracy in your wake.
You feed your children crap food, crap information and crap entertainment.
You think you represent all we stand for,
when in fact, your arrogance and ignorance
will be our ultimate failure.
You’re lazy and distracted.
You blame as if blaming is a resolution.
You veil your fascism and xenophobia under the righteous indignation of patriotism.
You feel entitled.
You carry signs and wave flags and pump your fists.
You chant USA like baboons fighting for a female.
You cling to that remaining DNA.
You pull history from it’s context and twist it into some malformed quasi platform.
You preach patriotism and freedom and spend your money on goods made under
You vote with your dollars.
You abandon your values and ideals in exchange low low prices.
You preach christianity in a manner that ignores it’s very tenets.
You stand as an impedance to progress,
as if you could hold back a world that is moving past you.
You scream and roar like a dinosaur amidst plummeting temperatures.
and if anyone owes anyone an apology
you owe me one.