Tag Archives: war

GEORGE ORWELL ‘Animal Farm’

28 Aug

“to fuse political purpose and artistic purpose into one whole”- George Orwell

• I finished reading the book I bought at the British Library last week. It is quite short so it didn’t take long to read.
• It is also deliberately simply written so it is easy for everyone to understand. (No matter the time that has past).
“I thought of exposing the Soviet myth in a story that could be easily understood by almost anyone and which could be easily translated into other languages.”
• Written at the end of 1943 but almost not published for its attack on Britain’s wartime ally Stalin. (The book reflects events leading up to the Russian Revolution of 1917 and then on into the Stalin era in the Soviet Union).
• The Ukrainian translation of ‘Animal Farm’ was intended for Ukrainians living in the camps for Displaced Persons in Germany under British and American administration after World War II. These were people who supported the October Revolution and who were determined to defend what had been won, but who had turned against ‘the counter-revolutionary Bonapartism of Stalin’ and the ‘Russian nationalistic exploitation of the Ukrainian people.’ They were simple people, peasants and workers, some half-educated, but all of whom read eagerly.
• an allegorical and dystopian novel
• A devastating satire of idealism betrayed by power and corruption.
• The novel addresses not only the corruption of the revolution by its leaders, but also the ways wickedness, indifference, ignorance, greed, and myopia corrupt the revolution. It portrays corrupt leadership as the flaw in revolution, rather than the act of revolution itself. It also shows how potential ignorance and indifference to problems within a revolution could allow horrors to happen if a smooth transition to a people’s government is not achieved.

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ERIK RAVELO

25 Aug

Los Intocables (The Untouchables) 2012
The right to childhood should be protected.

Provocative photographs addressing systemic and institutional child abuse. The images capture children pinned up crucifixion style against the backs of adult authority figures .The first one speaks of paedophiles in the Catholic Church, child prostitution in Thailand, child army recruitment in Syria, child organ trafficking in Brazil, free guns in USA and child obesity (McDonalds). I love this piece. I find the concept really political, moving and powerful. I also like how it addresses the responsibility of adult figures with regard to the harming of children in various contexts. Placing the children at the forefront of issues such as military occupation, tourism, healthcare, religion, and school violence, asks viewers to consider the potential for abuse within these issues and institutions.
I’ve read some comments that people feel that the McDonald’s image seems very out-of-place amongst the others. I disagree, because to only feed a child junk food, let it reach obesity and damage its health, is abuse in my opinion. I do however, agree with comments that point out that a black child is missing. “Or maybe it’s because we don’t see black kids as kids, but rather as hoodlums, and thugs…” Perhaps the artist could have included an image of a black child crucified on a white male cop..?

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EXHIBITION: Keep Your Timber Limber (ICA)

24 Aug

• Explores how artists since the 19040’s to the present day have used drawing to address ideas critical and current to their time.
• Ranging from the politics of gender and sexuality to feminist issues, war, censorship and race.
• The works can all be viewed as being in some way transgressive.
• Using traditional and commercial drawing techniques to challenge specific social, political or stylistic conventions.
• Could be retitled ‘The Penis Exhibition’ because there are that many drawings of dicks.
Works that stood out for me:

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• JUDITH BERNSTEIN
• Sexual violence and acts of war
• Male power
• Pop art and abstract expressionism (historically dominated by male artists).
• Vietnam war
• Against the decisions made predominantly by men on behalf of society

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• CARY KWOK
• Studied fashion
• Beautifully detailed, delicate ballpoint drawings
• Men at the moment of ejaculation (revealing a moment historically associated with defencelessness and weakness)
• Religious figures (universal, regardless of faith)

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• TOM OF FINLAND (aka Touko Laaksonen)
• In opposition to the dominant image of the homosexual in the 1950’s
• Adopted the tougher image (the rebel of the time, the biker)
• First artist to depict ha homosexual man as happy, healthy and masculine.
• Establishing the gay man not as a pervert, but as a joyful person.
• Sometimes with the message ‘Clothed is sexy’
• These images were so popular that the images and ideas that they depict have become somewhat of a cliché

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Loved the little book shop at the ICA. Found about 10 books of interest that I will try and find in the UAL libraries (or add to my Christmas wish list 😛 )

Exhibition: Propaganda: Power and Persuasion (British Library)

19 Aug

The first thing that comes to my mind when I hear the word propaganda is lies. I think of corrupt governments spreading lies about the enemy to justify wars and other actions. But the current Propaganda exhibition at the British Library has shown me that as the 1950s French political thinker Jacques Driencourt declared, nearly “everything is propaganda”.
The exhibition’s examples of propaganda vary from a bronze coin issued in 290BC bearing the head of Alexander the Great portrayed as Heracles, son of Zeus, to World War two posters, then government health campaigns and even twitter feeds. Together these examples describe propaganda as any efforts to influence beliefs and behaviour.
The exhibition explores the origins, strategies and consequences of state propaganda ending with how digital technology has provided new routes for states to communicate but has also provided new ways for people to challenge and criticise state messages. Social media, such as Twitter, Facebook and online blogs, make everyone a potential propagandist!
Here are a couple of examples from the exhibition that I found interesting or amusing:

‘Personality Identification’ playing cards. Used by soldiers in the Iraq war to help them remember faces and names of different enemy members.

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Superman Bosnian comic book.
This Bosnian comic book cover was used to highlight the plight of land mines in the country. It shows Superman swooping in to save two boys hunting for war souvenirs in a minefield. It was later band however, when children actually went looking for land mines hoping that they would meet superman and he would come to their rescue!

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I also bought a book whilst at the museum: George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’

OTTO DIX

13 Jan

Born in 1891, Germany

• 1914 volunteered for the German Army in WWI
• Wounded several times during the war. Nearly died when a shrapnel splinter hit him in the neck.
• In 1918 (end of the war), Dix had won the “Iron Cross” (second class) and reached the rank of vice-sergeant- major.
• Developed left-wing views and his paintings and drawings became increasingly political
• Angry about the way that the wounded and crippled ex-soldiers were treated in Germany.

otto dix, trench warfare

• “The Trench” was purchased and exhibited by the Wallraf-Richartz Museum. Its depiction of decomposed corpses in a German trench created such a public outcry that the museum’s director, Hans Secker, was forced to resign.
• “No More War!” travelling exhibition put on with other artists who had fought in WW1
• 1933: Hitler and Nazi Germany
• Government disliked Dix’s anti-military paintings and arranged for him to be sacked from his job as an art tutor at Dresden Academy.
Dismissal letter said his work, “threatened to sap the will of the German people to defend themselves.”

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• “The Trench” and “War Cripples” appeared in a Nazi exhibition to discredit modern art. Later several of Dix’s anti-war paintings were destroyed by the Nazi authorities.
• With the Nazis in power, artists in Germany could only work as an artist, buy materials or show their work if they were members of the Imperial Chamber of Fine Arts.
Dix was allowed to become a member in return for agreeing to paint landscapes instead of political subjects.
• Dix mainly painted landscapes during this period, but still produced the occasional allegorical painting which contained coded attacks on the Nazi government. He exhibited several of these paintings in a one-man exhibition in 1938. In 1939 Dix was arrested and charged with involvement in a plot on Hitler’s life. Eventually he was released as the charges were dropped.

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• In 1945 Dix was forced to join the German Army to fight in WWII. At the end of the war he was captured and put into a prisoner-of-war camp. Released in Feb. 1946.
• Most of Dix’s post-war paintings were religious allegories. However, paintings such as “Job” (1946), “Masks in Ruins” (1946) and “Ecce Homo 2” (1948), dealt with the suffering caused by WWII.

Otto Dix died in 1969