Tuesday, October 21, 2014

VIOLENCE: " . . . and the women must live with the consequences . . . "

Stop what you're doing right now and figure out when you are going to go see the Fires Will Burn: Politically Engaged Art from the Permanent Collection exhibition at DePaul. (It's up until December 21, 2014.)

You'll find examples from the show sprinkled throughout my blog posts in the days ahead. Here are two examples -- plus a third from a companion exhibition -- to give a hint of what awaits you at DePaul.

Negar Ahkami

The first work you encounter when you enter the exhibit is As I Sit Here Musing, Fires Will Burn, a 2003 work by Negar Ahkami. The image reproduced below can barely give a suggestion of the vibrancy and depth of this 50" by 50" work (executed in "coffee cup stains, gesso, saffron, acrylic and glitter").

As I Sit Here Musing, Fires Will Burn by Negar Ahkami

In a composition suggestive of a yin-yang symbol, a woman in a burka (but wearing audacious red glitter platform heels) is surrounded by genie-ish tableaus of the many male obsessions/pastimes that some of us rail about frequently -- sexualized pop singers, professional sports -- as well as some that we probably should rail about more (such as patriarchy in religion and political violence).

The yellow-brick road [a Chicago invention!] leads . . . where?

Fletcher Martin

I couldn't help noticing an echo in the Ahkami work of a much earlier work, coincidentally on display in a separate exhibition on the 2nd floor of the DePaul museum.

Ink, Paper, Politics: WPA-Era Printmaking from the Needles Collection also runs through December 21, and it's a wonderful companion to the Fires Will Burn show.

Trouble in Frisco by Fletcher Martin

Fletcher Martin's 1935 work Trouble in Frisco surprised me with how perfectly it complements the nestled yin-yang pattern of the Ahkami work, and also the way it alludes to the same paradox: why are men the source of so much trouble?

Thinking back to my days of visiting the Barnes Collection in Philadelphia, which famously featured a didactic arrangement of works based on benefactor Dr. Albert C. Barnes' aesthetic theories, I wondered, "Is the proximity of these two works a Barnesian "Easter egg" provided by the curators?" (For more on the Barnes Collection and "proximity," see " An Interactive Tour Through the Barnes Foundation" by Randy Kennedy in The New York Times.)

Diego Rivera

Back to the Fires Will Burn show, I couldn't help noticing the continuity between the final work I encountered in the show with the first one.

Wounded Soldier by Diego Rivera

Wounded Soldier is a 1931 work by Diego Rivera.The soldier, head bandaged, lies on a stretcher while a woman -- presumably his wife -- kneels at his side and cares for him.

I jotted in my notes: " . . . and the women must live with the consequences . . . . "

Much more awaits you - try to see the Fires Will Burn: Politically Engaged Art from the Permanent Collection exhibition at DePaul before it closes December 21.

Related posts

The biggest idea coming out of the 2013 Drone Summit? We will only deal successfully with the crimes being committed using drones when we understand them as part of the much larger war against communities of color . . . .

(See Drone Gaze, Drone Injury: The War on Communities of Color )

Women Without Men is a recent movie by the artist Shirin Neshat, based on the novel by Shahrnush Parsipur.. The first time I saw it, at the end I walked straight to the ticket window and bought another ticket and walked right back in and watched it again. The film contains haunting scene after haunting scene, and it makes it clear that Iran is a place where people are able to ask questions about patriarchy and about what it is going to take to overcome it.

(See Women Without Men as a US-Iran Cultural Bridge)

Eventually, in large part due to Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin, the United States was converted from a country in which a small number of people thought slavery needed to be ended into a country determined to act to end slavery. This literary work took the movement wide, and it took it deep.

Why is a novel an important tool for creative resistance?

(See Creative Resistance 101: Uncle Tom's Cabin )

"Inhumane treatment of young men and boys, arrests under cover of night, unjust torture while in police custody, missing husbands and brothers and sons, children stripped of internationally agreed upon human rights. For these Palestinian boys and men, we weep with the women."

(See Palestine: The Women Weep (34th Annual 8th Day Good Friday Justice Walk) on the Working Group on the Middle East (MCS, ELCA) website.)

A woman's covered face can refer to an oppressed position in society and simultaneously to a commitment to resistance.

(See Long-suffering and Faceless in Hong Kong )

Other related links

"'Fires Will Burn,' a lesson in social issues at the DePaul Art Museum" by Aimee Levitt in The Chicago Reader: ""