Presented in the form of painting, installation, and sculptural objects, I am currently examining the topic of postcolonialism in respect to the role of Western powers in developing nations, and the hypocrisy, corruption, humanitarian violation, and disguised imperialism that is entwined within these relationships. My work is meant to unveil the actual present, the dark exposure of the utopic ideas that we claim are the roots of our motivations, however the reality seen past the facade of patriotism. We are all victims of this system that has spun out of control. Capitalism and democracy are failing to live up to the original precepts of their ideologies, instead global corporate oligarchies and dictatorships are replacing these ideals, yet we refuse to acknowledge the mutation. Our perception of the time we live in is skewed. Through a strategy of violence, where the new proganda is new media, where a slave mode of exploitation is the basis of mass-production and foreign trade, the invasion of the private life by government surveillance, and the limitation or eradication of gender and civil rights, our democracy is quickly evolving into fascism. I believe strongly that we are in a state of “mass-befuddlement”, as you pointed out in your text.
Richard Huelsenbeck states in En avant Dada: Eine Geschichte des Dadaismus, “Art in its execution and direction is dependent on the time in which it lives, and artists are creatures of their epoch. The highest art will be that which in its conscious content presents the thousandfold problems of the day, the art which has been visibly shattered by the explosions of the last week, which is forever trying to collect its limbs after yesterday’s crash.”
For the Bohemians, the Dadaists, Futurists, Constructivists, German Expressionists, Surrealists, among many others, with their manifestoes, rag tag newspapers, loose alliances with revolutionaries, often communist and socialist, the artist as an advocate and facilitator of social change, critique, reform and restoration, was a wholly accepted responsibility, inseparable from their aethetic output. Through “the application of utopian ideas of artistic production of social fulfillment in a far-reaching critique of capitalist social organization”, the artist is an essential voice in turbulent times.
Art, in its very making and nature is a political act, inextricably bound to the social context in which it is created. As an object produced by a single author or collective it is a functioning vessel of creative capital, a secular commodity, an intellectual copyright, if or when it is shown and sold as a luxury good. Whether to an individual patron as part of a diverse investment portfolio, who like us all is bombarded by media, advertisement and consumer culture, fame, trend, and propaganda, or by an institutional structure that also must bow to governmental dictates, market, and economy, the relationship between the artist and the “art world” is one full of contradictions, discrepancies, heroism, and exploitation. The artist must champion an absence of cynicism when our ideals fail and need to be reinterpreted again, and done so often with humor and blind hope. The importance of revision and multiplicity of truth is discussed by American Professor Stephen Duncombe in his lecture Utopia is No Place: The Art and Politics of Impossible Futures, in reference to the the Yes Men collective’s utopian hoax printing 80,000 copies of a fictional New York Times special edition. Duncombe argues for the importance of generative failure and calls upon the artist, “to up the anti- of these necessary fictions”, “making them wild, why not”, saying “unless you have these sort of imaginative leaps, you are always going to end up just recreating the status quo”.
In this post- post- post age of disguised colonialism, sanctimoniously justified imperialism in the name of democratic reform, geo-political warfare, water-downed contemporary activism through the internet and social media, the proliferation of awareness and knowledge of the world’s atrocities and our desensitived attitudes towards nearly everything, and in contrast the brave political overthrow of regimes and dictatorships such as we’ve seen in the Arab Spring, these times call for the neverending flexiblity and self-reliance of the artist. The transgressor who establishes utopias wherever they land (at least until gentrification firms its grip), as they migrate and reinvent, no matter what the world has to throw at them. Utopians and political animals as we are, living a vie de sauvage.
Sanguma Meri and Crown series
The witch-hunts of early modern Europe (1450-1750), seem almost a fiction, a dark spot in history that we are far-removed from. As if democracy, science, industrialization, and religious pluralism, has rendered such mass hysteria and superstition as both irrational and impossibile in contemporary society. With the publication of the Malleus maleficarum, “The Hammer of Witches”, by the Catholic Inquisition in 1485-1486, with no less than 20 printed editions, “genderized mass murder” was fully sanctioned by the Vatican. The Hammer was a highly detailed how-to-guide to identify witches and seek their confessions, resulting in the torture and murder of tens of thousands. Germany lead historically with the highest death toll in Europe. Witch-hunts were the brutal ramification of economic crisis, widespread social disenfranchisement, religious instability and polarization due to the emergence of Protestantism. The atmosphere of intolerance and decades of war, of debilitating natural disasters, famine, and the Bubonic plague, was the breeding ground for fear, jealousy, gossip, slander, hearsay, and suspicion. Most often it was sparked by a conflict between women, neighbors, family members, a need to find a scapegoat, a greed to possess what another had gained.
Sadly so, the persecution of women, men, and children on the basis of accusations of sorcery is still in practice globally, and growing at an alarming rate in developing countries, as neocolonialism creates a climate of unrest, dependency, poverty, unsurmontable debt, and frustration in the face of consumerism, socio-economic and political flucuations. Multinational corporations operating in countries such as South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Papua New Guinea, the Congo, India, among others, enrich a ruling elite, while causing massive humanitarian, environmental, and ecological devastation to the populations which inhabit the neocolonies. These countries, struggle to establish national economies, and are dependent on foreign investment, and grant free entrance access, allowing the movement of capital in the form of commodities, precious natural resources. Indebted to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, these corporate contracts end up being reservoirs of cheap labor and raw materials for foreign corporations, particularly mineral mining, crude oil, and agriculture for bio-fuel production, which stunt their own economies from developing. This disparate phenomena has lead to sharp increases in domestic violence against women and children, lynch mobs, gang violence, rape, torture, and slaughter. The installation Sanguma Meri is a multi-media engagement, calling upon the viewer for the sake of awareness and activism. We cannot allow negligence in our government and judicial systems, regarding policing big business that operates internationally. In order to protect human rights we must demand that industry puts social responsibility above financial gain.