Monday, April 25, 2011

Sunday, April 24, 2011

San Francisco Easter


Posters 1968

'be young and shut up'

'beauty is in the streets'

'we are all undesirables'

postered wall

Paris Graffiti 1968

'how can you think freely in the shadow of a chapel'

'under the pavement the beach'

'it is forbidden to forbid'

'live without dead time' 'enjoy without obstacles'

'life instead'

Easter Sunday 1950

Today, Easter day of the Holy Year,
Here, under the emblem of Notre-Dame of Paris,
I accuse the universal Catholic Church of the lethal diversion of our living strength toward an empty heaven,
I accuse the Catholic Church of swindling,
I accuse the Catholic Church of infecting the world with its funereal morality,
Of being the running sore on the decomposed body of the West.
Verily I say unto you: God is dead,
We vomit the agonizing insipidity of your prayers,
For your prayers have been the greasy smoke over the battlefields of our Europe.
Go forth then into the tragic and exalting desert of a world where God is dead,
And till this earth anew with your bare hands,
With your PROUD hands,
With your unpraying hands.
Today Easter day of the Holy Year,
Here under the emblem of Notre-Dame of Paris,
We proclaim the death of the Christ-god, so that Man may live at last.

Dressed as a Dominican monk, Michel Mourre (who had previously belonged to the Dominican order) gave this anti-sermon, written by Serge Berna, at a quiet point in the Easter service which was aired on national television. This incident lead to the formation of the Situationist International, lead by Guy Debord, which instituted the art of action or "the situation" as a means of communicating reactionary ideas. By creating experimental situations set against the backdrop of a capitalist society, the situationists were able to create a dialogue where people were encouraged to critically analyze their everyday lives and in doing so realize their worth, meaning, or purpose. Debord's manifesto, The Society of the Spectacle, helped encourage and provoke a revolt against a consumer based society, spurring the May 1968 uprisings in Paris.

"The loss of quality that is so evident at every level of spectacular language, from the objects it glorifies to the behavior it regulates, stems from the basic nature of a production system that shuns reality. The commodity form reduces everything to quantitative equivalence. The quantitative is what it develops, and it can develop only within the quantitative."
Guy Debord (The Society of the Spectacle)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Jean-Paul Sartre

"As long as the explosion lasts, juxtaposition signifies progress. Beside means beyond. For each object, scattered everywhere, in all directions, launched with all the others upon an infinite course, to be is to participate in the raging tide whereby the universe at every moment wins new areas of being from nothingness. [...] Its aim is to force the externality of Nature to reflect to man his own transcendence. For those who want "to change life," "to reinvent love," God is nothing but a hinderance. If the unity is not dynamic, if it manifests itself in the form of restrictive contours, it reflects the image of their chains. Revolutionaries break the shell of being; the yolk flows everywhere." - on the principle of "explosive unity"

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Rhapsody in Gray

stop screaming at me
in ways i'll never understand
your empty flashes of lost noise

shatter my silence with the
spice of words coated
in sweet surrender to the
everlasting nothing -

my clit is aroused with a burning curiosity 
stimulated by a fire i let too close to my retinas
branding my eyelids with acid rain
i shed poisoned tears for your lost soul

read between the lines

there is no way to lose
there has never been
anything left to gain

i can not tell the difference
between mental and real

escaping distance
escaping nirvana
upon eternal quest
i am not my own

i am held fast in nocturnal mind's
eye spy

captivating notions of
-all begin in heaven
so all must end in hell-

myriads of infinite jest
prance through my skull
out of order

time like an arrow
swift and steady
ready to make its mark
ready to explode in brilliant color
across the waves of an endless void
of empty space 
is lost

now fast forward time to dream deranged

no more black and white

forever falling down the pothole manhole rabbithole blackhole

Monday, April 11, 2011

Bite Hand Mouth

Gods or Men

acrylic, oil, ink collage on cardboard using pages from the bible, torah, koran and religious iconographic stamps

oil collage on glass with religious iconographic stamps

Saturday, April 2, 2011

In Celebration of the Sacred and Profane

Piss Christ is a 1987 photograph by artist and photographer Andres Serrano. It depicts a small plastic crucifix submerged in a glass of the artist's urine. The piece was a winner of the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art's "Awards in the Visual Arts" competition, which is sponsored in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, a United States Government agency that offers support and funding for artistic projects.

The photograph is of a small plastic crucifix submerged in a glass of what appears to be a yellow liquid. The artist has described the substance as being his own urine. The photograph was one of a series of photographs that Serrano had made that involved classical statuettes submerged in various fluids—milk, blood, and urine. The photograph is a 60x40 inch Cibachrome print. It is glossy and its colors are deeply saturated. The presentation is that of a golden, rosy medium including a constellation of tiny bubbles. Without Serrano's explanation, the viewer would not necessarily be able to differentiate between the stated medium of urine and a medium of similar appearance, such as amber or polyurethane.

Serrano has not ascribed overtly political content to Piss Christ and related artworks, on the contrary stressing their ambiguity. He has also said that while this work is not intended to denounce religion, it alludes to a perceived commercializing or cheapening of Christian icons in contemporary culture.

The piece caused a scandal when it was exhibited in 1989, with detractors, including United States Senators Al D'Amato and Jesse Helms, outraged that Serrano received $15,000 for the work, part of it from the taxpayer-funded National Endowment for the Arts. Serrano received death threats and hate mail, and lost grants due to the controversy. Others alleged that the government funding of Piss Christ violated separation of church and state. The work was vandalized at the National Gallery of Victoria, Australia, and gallery officials reported receiving death threats in response to Piss Christ. Supporters argued that the controversy over Piss Christ is an issue of artistic freedom and freedom of speech.

Sister Wendy Beckett, an art critic and Catholic nun, stated in a television interview with Bill Moyers that she regarded the work as not blasphemous but a statement on "what we have done to Christ": that is, the way contemporary society has come to regard Christ and the values he represents.

During a retrospective of Serrano's work at the National Gallery of Victoria in 1997, the then Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne, George Pell, sought an injunction from the Supreme Court of Victoria to restrain the National Gallery of Victoria from publicly displaying Piss Christ, which was not granted. Some days later, one patron attempted to remove the work from the gallery wall, and two teenagers later attacked it with a hammer. The director of the NGV cancelled the show, allegedly out of concern for a Rembrandt exhibition that was also on display at the time.

Lost in Translation

William McKinley, Jr. (January 29, 1843 – September 14, 1901) was the 25th President of the United States (1897–1901), and the last veteran of the American Civil War to be elected to that office. He was the last President of the 19th century and the first of the 20th.

By the 1880s, McKinley was a national Republican leader; his signature issue was high tariffs on imports as a formula for prosperity, as typified by his McKinley Tariff of 1890. As the Republican candidate in the 1896 presidential election, against Democrat William Jennings Bryan, he upheld the gold standard, and promoted pluralism among ethnic groups. His campaign, designed by Mark Hanna, introduced new advertising-style campaign techniques that revolutionized campaign practices and beat back the crusading of his arch-rival, William Jennings Bryan. The 1896 election is often considered a realigning election that marked the beginning of the Progressive Era.

McKinley presided over a return to prosperity after the Panic of 1893, and made gold the base of the currency. He demanded that Spain end its atrocities in Cuba, which were outraging public opinion; Spain resisted the interference and the Spanish-American War became inevitable in 1898. The war was fast and easy, as the weak Spanish fleets were sunk and both Cuba and the Philippines were captured in 90 days. As a result of the 1898 Treaty of Paris, the former Spanish colonies of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines were annexed by the United States as unincorporated territories, and Cuba was subjected to United States occupation. Although support for the war itself was widespread, the Democrats and anti-imperialists vehemently opposed the annexation of the Philippines, fearing a loss of republican values. McKinley also annexed the independent Republic of Hawaii in 1898, with all its residents becoming full American citizens. McKinley was reelected in the 1900 presidential election following another intense campaign against Bryan, which focused on foreign policy and the return of prosperity. McKinley was assassinated by anarchist Leon Czolgosz, in 1901, and succeeded by his Vice President Theodore Roosevelt.

Leon Frank Czolgosz (May 5, 1873[1] – October 29, 1901) was the assassin of U.S. President William McKinley. In the last few years of his life, he claimed to have been heavily influenced by anarchists such as Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman.

Czolgosz was born in Alpena, Michigan in 1873, one of eight children of Polish Catholic immigrants from Prussia. He left his family farm in Warrensville, Ohio, at the age of ten to work at the American Steel and Wire Company with two of his brothers. After the workers of his factory went on strike, he and his brothers were fired. Czolgosz then returned to the family farm in Warrensville. At the age of sixteen, he was sent to work in a glass factory in Natrona, Pennsylvania for two years.

In 1898, after witnessing a series of similar strikes (many ending in violence and police brutality), Czolgosz again returned home. He became a recluse and spent much of his time alone reading Socialist and anarchist newspapers. Already frustrated by years of economic depression that began with the Panic of 1893, and by the lack of progress toward more humane working conditions, American workers, including Czolgosz, wondered why some of the vast wealth of the industrial boom wasn't trickling down to them. Millionaires like railroad king Cornelius Vanderbilt, oil baron John D. Rockefeller, steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, and banker J.P. Morgan had accumulated unprecedented private wealth and were known to spend more on an evening's entertainment than a coal miner or tradesman could earn in a lifetime. Such ostentatious displays bred discontent. Rubbing salt in the wound, the industrialists routinely relied on the government to help squelch worker uprisings. Employee unions had progressively become a more dominant force in American life during the last quarter of the nineteenth century as they sought to improve working conditions. Strikers had clashed violently with police and the military in Chicago's Haymarket Riot in 1886 and again in the Pullman strike eight years later, leaving scores of people dead in the streets. In 1892, Pinkerton detectives in Homestead, Pennsylvania, suppressed a steel strike and protected scab laborers. The government had sided with management against workers in each instance.

Czolgosz was impressed after hearing a speech by the political radical Emma Goldman, whom he met for the first time during one of her lectures in Cleveland in 1901. After the lecture Czolgosz approached the speakers' platform and asked for reading recommendations. A few days later he visited her home in Chicago and introduced himself as Nieman, but Goldman was on her way to the train station. He only had enough time to explain to her about his disappointment in Cleveland's socialists, and for Goldman to introduce him to her anarchist friends who were at the train station. She later wrote a piece in defense of Czolgosz.

Czolgosz believed there was a great injustice in American society, an inequality which allowed the wealthy to enrich themselves by exploiting the poor. He concluded that the reason for this was the structure of government itself. Then he learned of a European crime which changed his life: On July 29, 1900, King Umberto I of Italy had been shot dead by anarchist Gaetano Bresci. Bresci told the press that he had decided to take matters into his own hands for the sake of the common man.

The assassination of President McKinley shocked and galvanized the American anarchist movement, and Czolgosz is thought to have consciously imitated Bresci. His last words were "I killed the President because he was the enemy of the good people – the good working people. I am not sorry for my crime."

Definition of anarchism, written by Kropotkin for the 1905 Encyclopedia Britannica: "the name given to a principle or theory of life and conduct under which society is conceived without government- harmony in such a society being obtained, not by submission to law, or by obedience to any authority, but by free agreements concluded between the various groups, territorial and professional, freely constituted for the sake of production and consumption, as also for the satisfaction of the infinite variety of needs and aspirations of civilized being."

All This Means Nothing, the monuments we erect, the heroes we create, ALL are nothing more than a mere distraction to mask the degradation of our everyday lives by the rules we have created in order to give life order. In giving life order and government, we strip ourselves of freedom, we suppress our basic human desire to live with passion and by instinct, in essence, to thrive. Government has always been in support of big business and capital gain and our conventional market-driven world has placed dollar signs at the center of what most people are trying to attain in semblance of happiness. The common man has become nothing more than a consumer for industrialists to make a profit. So what are these gods we worship, these idols we create, these statues we erect, these religions we follow, this government we support? Does it really have our best interest at heart? What is our best interest in this modern world? Is what we have really what we need? What will our legacy be?

And for the record, I am not siding with Czolgosz. Violence is never the answer, though I am sympathetic toward his perspective. Instead of fighting with weapons, why not use words, symbols, art and language to express our views and try and bring about the change in people's hearts that is so desperately needed. 

All This Means Nothing

Fountain is a 1917 work by Marcel Duchamp. It is one of the pieces which he called readymades (also known as found art), because he made use of an already existing object—in this case a urinal, which he titled Fountain and signed "R. Mutt". The art show to which Duchamp submitted the piece stated that all works would be accepted, but Fountain was not actually displayed, and the original has been lost. The work is regarded by some as a major landmark in 20th century art. Replicas commissioned by Duchamp in the 1960s are now on display in a number of different museums.

Marcel Duchamp arrived in the United States less than two years prior to the creation of Fountain and had become involved with Dada, an anti-rational, anti-art cultural movement, in New York City. Creation of Fountain began when, accompanied by artist Joseph Stella and art collector Walter Arensberg, he purchased a standard Bedfordshire model urinal from the J. L. Mott Iron Works, 118 Fifth Avenue. The artist brought the urinal to his studio at 33 West 67th Street, reoriented it to a position 90 degrees from its normal position of use, and wrote on it, "R. Mutt 1917".

At the time Duchamp was a board member of the Society of Independent Artists and submitted the piece under the name R. Mutt, presumably to hide his involvement with the piece, to their 1917 exhibition, which, it had been proclaimed, would exhibit all work submitted. After much debate by the board members (most of whom did not know Duchamp had submitted it) about whether the piece was or was not art, Fountain was hidden from view during the show. Duchamp and Arensberg resigned from the board after the exhibition.

The New York Dadaists stirred controversy about Fountain and its being hidden from view in the second issue of The Blind Man which included a photo of the piece and a letter by Alfred Stieglitz, and writings by Beatrice Wood and Arensberg. The anonymous editorial (which is assumed to be written by Wood) accompanying the photograph, entitled "The Richard Mutt Case," made a claim that would prove to be important concerning certain works of art that would come after it: "Whether Mr Mutt made the fountain with his own hands or not has no importance. He CHOSE it. He took an article of life, placed it so that its useful significance disappeared under the new title and point of view – creating a new thought for that object."

Duchamp described his intent with the piece was to shift the focus of art from physical craft to intellectual interpretation.

Shortly after its initial exhibition, Fountain was lost. According to Duchamp biographer Calvin Tomkins, the best guess is that it was thrown out as rubbish by Stieglitz, a common fate of Duchamp's early readymades.

The meaning (if any) and intention of both the piece and the signature "R. Mutt", are difficult to pin down precisely. Later in his life Duchamp himself commented on the name of the alter ego he created for this work: "'Mutt' comes from Mott Works, the name of a large sanitary equipment manufacturer. But Mott was too close so I altered it to Mutt, after the daily cartoon strip Mutt and Jeff. But not even that much, just R. MUTT." If we separate the capital and lowercase letters we get "R.M" and "utt", "R.M" would stand for "Readymade" which is the fountain itself and "utt" when read out loud sounds like "eut été" in French (much like Duchamp's L.H.O.O.Q.).  Together it means "Readymade once was, 1917". Word games like this are common in Marcel Duchamp's work. Also, in German, Armut means poverty, although Duchamp said the R stood for Richard, which was French slang for "moneybags", which could translate the work to mean "moneybags piss pot," a kind of scatological golden calf.

In December 2004, Duchamp's Fountain was voted the most influential artwork of the 20th century by 500 selected British art world professionals. The Independent noted in a February 2008 article that with this single work, Duchamp invented conceptual art and "severed forever the traditional link between the artist's labour and the merit of the work".