“War, Depression, Suicide” is a collection of recent studio works I did for my independant studio course at the University of Windsor in mid 2011.
The works deal with an exploration of the themes of violence, especially as it is seen in war and internal violence, that for many, turns into a kind of self inflicted violence, the most extreme being suicide (particularly in the way it is so connected with the arts and artists).
A large portion of the works are inspired by my research into depression and suicide. I was very shocked by the amount of artists throughout history that committed suicide after various bouts of depression. This brought the subject closer to me as well because I have been in a depression before. When viewing lists of artists and performers with depression, I found that Conan O’Brian and Sarah Silverman, two of America’s most popular performers/comedians, suffered form depression at some point, inspiring me to make a PSA style poster.
The “Not Angry Enough” self portrait was inspired by my studies of African American civil rights leaders, their struggles, passions, and eventually their assassinations. The succession of violence in the years ’67, ’68 and ’69 give a chilling perspective on the prevalence of violence in the American ethos for most cultures, especially African American. My embodying of Malcolm X in the reproduction of Barbara Kruger’s “Not Angry Enough” is an attempt to create a layered and complex view of my identity.
The paintings suggests the subtle violence that is often masked in popular media, like the slaughter behind a “simple” hamburger or the environmental damage that comes with aluminum cans.
Another theme is the gender and sexuality that creates complex systems of meaning. The “girls” and gun phenomenon has greatly increased through video games with sexualized female characters like “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” and viral media like YouTube, where one can find thousands of videos of women shooting guns for primarily male consumption.
Though, one of the most violent aspects of this online presence is the highly aggressive and objectifying language that can be found in the comments section beneath the videos. This is what inspired the title’s of the paintings.
The painting “Governer of Alaska” which features the clothing and gun of Sarah Palin adds a layer of meaning by making the methods of consumption appear more complex, rather than suggesting only the pornographic can deal with the complex gender histories with firearms.
The cropping out of the women in these paintings is to bring the focus onto the consumer rather than giving the ability to “scape-goat” the women involved; to think of the abstract systems involved in the consumption of this media.
The interactive installation “War Games” is meant to bring the viewer into the often passive viewing experience of war media. The theme of the apache helicopter is strong throughout because of two main connections. The recent popularity of WikiLeaks and the leaked helicopter footage mirrors the kinds of language and attitudes found in playing video games, especially ones that feature “Middle Eastern” conflicts like “Desert Strike: Return To The Gulf” for the Sega Genesis.
The Sega controller is attached to an Arduino that controls a Max/MSP/Jitter patch on a laptop. The arrow keys act as fast forward and reverse and the “A, B, C” buttons change to a random clip from a collection of reapropriated and manipulated material from the internet.
Death of a Salesman & ”This is the one he started before he shot himself”, Oil Stick on paper, 24″ x 36″
Depression: Conan O’Brian & Sarah Silverman, C-Prints on paper, 8.5″ x 11″
Serotonin, Norepinephrin, Dopamine (Mark Rothko, No. 8), C-Print on paper, 11″ x 17″
The 12 Signs of Depression (With the ones I am most afraid of erased), Graphite on stonehenge, 48″ x 60″
Self Portrait (Not Angry Enough, After Kruger), C-Print on paper, 36″ x 36″
Self Portrait (Not Angry Enough, After Kruger) Detail
Hamburger, Oil stick on raw canvas, 36″ x 48″
Crushed Can, Oil stick on raw canvas, 36″ x 48″
Hamburger & Crushed Can Detail
Governer of Alaska, Acrylic on canvas, 48″ x 60″
Those Girls Can Shoot My Gun, What Good Is That In The Kitchen, That’s A Weird Looking Kitchen, Acrylic on canvas, 48″ x 60″
Installation view of “War Games“, an interactive installation.
The Arduino based interface from “War Games” used to control a video playing patch in Max/MSP/Jitter with a Sega Genesis Controller.