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. 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.

The installation Sanguma Meri is a multi-media engagement, making the viewer aware of this practice. The objects are mostly made from scrap metal and materials that I rummaged for in my own neighborhood or from scrap metal yards, a common practice of collecting in impoverished nations. The black tar is reminiscent of burnt flesh. The crown shapes are emblematic of modern-day martyrdom.


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