Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Art imitates life imitates art imitates life...(or maybe someone throwing something is simply a good visual)

In the beginning there was the Molotov cocktail man.

Then there was a photo of him, by
Susan Meiselas, who records history:

Then there was a painting of the photo by
Joy Garnett, who appropriates the work of those who record history:

Then there was a painting that looked so similar to Joy's in spirit, if not entirely of style or composition, that someone "not an aneemaal" Mark Barry emailed me to ask whether or not it was Joy's. It's actually by
Yishai Jusidman, who also appropriates the work of those who record history:

Then there was a photograph, in today's
New York Times, of a lawyer in Pakistan imitating the molotov cocktail man in the original (only with a tear gas canister that had first been lobbed at him):

I can't help but feel there must be some pearl of wisdom to be learned from the constant appearance of images of people in this pose in our world. Maybe it's merely what Dave Hickey noted the other day: "The problem is that even though history may be over—time keeps on going."

The water in our building is out today, so I had to get up and go to the gym to take a shower, and now I'm extra crispy grumpy, so I'll turn this into an open thread on art imitating live and vice versa rather than subject you to my less than patient grumblings....

Labels: art criticism, art viewing


Blogger Marc Snyder said...

The last image is either a lawyer in Pakistan or a Robert Longo getting in on the Molotov Man Motif. . .

11/06/2007 08:59:00 AM  
Blogger Joerg Colberg said...

The emergence of yet another cliche in photojournalism? The man throwing something as the easy image to go with for a story about "protests"? (note how the context of the photo automatically hints at violence btw!).

11/06/2007 09:03:00 AM  
Blogger Jonathan T. D. Neil said...

We'll tread gently later today then Ed...

As for the image echo, Lawrence Weschler dedicated an entire book to the phenomenon,
Everything That Rises: A Book of Convergences, and McSweeny's ran with it on the web.

...and I prefer my cocktails on the rocks.

11/06/2007 09:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Bnon said...

I think the last echo might be if Pepsi ran a computer animated ad of the bearded guy throwing the Molotov cocktail, which turns into rainbow of cola flowers engulfing a tank and a soldier climbs out and he and the bearded guy dance up to the clouds, Pepsi's in hand. There should be sex, too, but I can't quite work it in.

11/06/2007 09:13:00 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

that someone emailed me to ask whether or it not was Joy's

Someone I am, I'm not an aneemaal.
Throwing in anger, it was so Joy-esque. See now there's a new historical art term! Such a dfference from the Munks procession a few weeks ago. And I understand the seriousness of the protesting lawyers in Pakistan, but come on there is so much potential humor there, damn the writers strike!

11/06/2007 09:37:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

yes, it was Mark who emailed me, and who in my post-gym-shower-state-of-excessive=grumpiness, I neglected to credit. My bad.

At least I smell fresh now, though (TMI?)...


11/06/2007 09:44:00 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

At least your taking care of yourself...

11/06/2007 09:49:00 AM  
Anonymous joy said...

yikes, Ed: I just can't shake this cocktail (ok, bad, bad pun...). In the spirit of Weschler's book, I once set about collecting images of angry figures in that pose and of all things tagged "molotov" in flickr (which includes some cool stuff by the street artist known as Bast, as well as Banksy): http://tinyurl.com/3xy52u

There's really an unlimited supply of such images...

11/06/2007 09:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gosh, I wish our youngsters were out stopping this war and doing a little confrontation instead of videogame obsessing and letting poor and dark skinned Americans do the dirty work. Of course there would be violence as the police haul you out of peaceful assemblies just because of what is on your t-shirt. Fascist America arrived some time ago.

11/06/2007 10:07:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

funny how the clean-cut guy in the "rage against the machine" t-shirt looks so harmless, even armed with Pepsi McCocktail.

just like the lawyer in the suit.

We have these mental images of what rebels look like (the black beret and scraggly beard on the first guy being typical), but the real perpetrators of massive-scale evil often wear hand-tailored two pieces, don't they.

11/06/2007 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Fascist America arrived some time ago.

Yes it did, and it seems to be getting worse. The stories Sullivan is posting about how folks are being treated at borders or even on trains are horrific. All the in name of "Homeland Security," which is as fascist a moniker for a US government agency as I ever want to hear about.

What irks me most about it all is how the lack of response is grounded in cowardice. A nation of simpering wimps is what we've become, letting this legion of misguided pre-pubescent pricks in uniforms at the airport or subway treat us like we're cattle. Here's one very typical story that made me furious. Via Sullivan:

So I’m returning here, my native land, on a sleep-deprived overnight flight from Europe and, without realizing it, step over the line on the floor before the Immigration booth. The officer barks at me like an angry pitbull, I look up and find myself confronted with a glare so intense that one would assume a drawn gun would be the next step in the process. I step back, but the glare continues. I rise to some higher level of wakefulness and say to myself I’m not putting up with this shit and do my very best to match him in glare intensity. He only breaks off momentarily to hand back the passport of the preceding citizen and immediately returns to shooting me with eye darts – and I’m thinking, what the hell is this guy’s problem? Does a half-step over a painted line ten feet back from his little booth represent a serious assault on the Homeland?

We have got to take this country back.

To be fair, we had no such experience when returning from London recently. But then again, we're no where near as relaxed at the border crossings as we used to be either. We've been trained not to question anything at all that happens at an airport. It's pathetic.

11/06/2007 10:18:00 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

I was just going to link to the Sullivan train piece. Fear the over zealous pin heads. A prime example of why we need to stick to that thing called a constitution. http://www.episcopalcafe.com/daily/

11/06/2007 10:23:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Fear the over zealous pin heads.

Actually, I'd rather not fear them, but get them to realize they have a service oriented job to do that doesn't in anyway whatsoever entitle them to belittle or inconvenience paying customers any more than absolutely necessary and that all times and in all situations, courtesy is their responsibility.

11/06/2007 10:43:00 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

on Amtrak? :))

11/06/2007 11:05:00 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

I've heard countless stories of artists and lecturers being detained at airports and in some cases, as with a musician friend a few weeks ago, turned back on the next plane out.

We are experiencing such a brain drain era and cultural black hole. Needless fear.

11/06/2007 11:22:00 AM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

You don't have to get on public transportation to see we're in a fascist state. What about that huge blinking light sign just outside the Lincoln Tunnel in Manhattan reading "USE OF FALSE ID IS A CRIME"? I mean, did I accidentally wake up in Terry Gilliam's Brazil?

One of the things neither Orwell nor Huxley ever really got across is just how stupid this all looks. That's probably why fascists get away with it -- reasonable people can't believe it's actually happening.

11/06/2007 11:30:00 AM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

I'd like to direct everyone's attention to an excellent essay on Salon titled "What Orwell Didn't Know.

11/06/2007 12:19:00 PM  
Blogger Joseph Giannasio said...

Anonymous 10:07 might be onto something
Gosh, I wish our youngsters were out stopping this war and doing a little confrontation instead of videogame

"Molotov Cocktail Man" the video game
though I am sure in todays violence oriented video games there is a molotov cocktail slinging character, though in or increasing self chosen fascism I'm sure that it is a bad guy to be shot, conditioning citizens to identify with the thugs of the state instead of sympathizing with the struggles of the dystopic.

The image has definitely become a glyph for "The Revolution is about to Begin": (please choose a side boo the appropriate villian, and loudly cheer each victory of the good guys).

Add guitar riffs from Led Zeppelins Kashmir, emergency sirens, dub in a generic news report, and sounds of a riot, and you have record summer 2008 opening weekend box office receipts... Cha-Ching!

As for the suit throwing one, isn't every movement over when the the yuppies start emulating it.

Yuppie Molotov Cocktail Recipe:

one empty bottle of Kettle One

one litre double refine high octane racing fuel.

one Versace scarf (in real political emergencies last season can be used)

11/06/2007 04:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Joy said...

joseph g wrote:

As for the suit throwing one, isn't every movement over when the the yuppies start emulating it.

not when the suit is a Pakistani lawyer, demonstrating during a state of emergency... declared by a dictator suppported by the US.

chris r wrote:
That's probably why fascists get away with it -- reasonable people can't believe it's actually happening.

ain't that the truth.

11/06/2007 05:00:00 PM  
Blogger Oly said...

I'm sorry.
I cannot control my urge to post this.

Molotov Brady

11/06/2007 08:17:00 PM  
Blogger Oly said...

Note to Ed-- even in the grumpiest of days, looking at Tom Brady puts a smile on my face.
Sorry... I'm off subject majorly.


Bnon asked for sex, so I happily obliged.

11/06/2007 08:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

too bad Brady is (at least was in 2004) a Bush supporter.

11/06/2007 08:32:00 PM  
Blogger Joseph Giannasio said...

not when the suit is a Pakistani lawyer, demonstrating during a state of emergency... declared by a dictator suppported by the US.

Especially then...;)

11/06/2007 10:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Marshall said...

The pearl of wisdom is that history, for all of it's blatant and obvious repetitiveness, is far from over.

Regardless of the efficacy of any of the documented actions, each individual pictured holds the belief that history is malleable and that they have a place in it.

11/07/2007 12:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Val said...

Could it be this pose is popular because of the ancient greeks?

11/07/2007 04:00:00 AM  
Blogger David Cauchi said...

Could it be that all these images look similar because this is what throwing a projectile looks like? The question to ask is why has an individual act of aggression become the standard image (symbol) of street battles between demonstrators and riot police/soldiers, instead of, say, an image of people fighting together in solidarity?

11/07/2007 06:47:00 PM  
Blogger Sunil said...

Looks like the Molotov Cocktail man is becoming the new Che for T-shirts.

Great post and the earlier reference to the book on convergences is spot on.

11/09/2007 09:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Kai said...

You should check out Daniel Blochwitz' exhibit "mixed messages" in DUMBO ...

11/09/2007 02:03:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

Mr. Cauchi sez:
Could it be that all these images look similar because this is what throwing a projectile looks like?

I didn't want to say anything, but I thought this when I first saw this post. I immediately thought, geez, Ed doesn't really think all these images are linked, does he? Aside from Joy Garnett's time waster.

But he doesn't really say they're all linked, which I found when I re-read it.

11/09/2007 03:03:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

Incidentally, Sunil: Does this mean we can look forward to Justin Faunce painting Michael Jackson's face on a molotov cocktail thrower for his next show?

Nah, he'll probably use someone more up to date, like Kaiser Wilhelm.

11/09/2007 03:05:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Joy Garnett's time waster.

Excuse me?

Can you explain that?

11/09/2007 03:05:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

She wasted her time by copying a photo in a very uninteresting way, and we wasted our time by looking at it.

11/09/2007 03:15:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...


I welcome significant critiques of the artists I work with, but must ask folks to refrain from cheap shots like that. Joy not only works with the gallery, but she comments here, and as such deserves better.

If you dislike her work, that's fine, but a condescending and otherwise pointless dismissal like that is not welcome.

11/09/2007 03:20:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

Does it help if I say I like her newer work a lot?

11/09/2007 03:24:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

And does that further mean that it's okay to take cheap shots at people you, Ed, don't work with, or who don't post here?

11/09/2007 03:26:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Cheap shot in general are, well, cheap, and should be used sparingly, IMHO. The only folks I get defensive about on this site are those who post here and those I work with. I would hope that's understandable.

11/09/2007 03:41:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

Of course it's understandable! Otherwise we wouldn't be able to make fun of Damien Hirst or Charlie Finch! Or George W. Bush and Dick Cheney!

11/09/2007 04:04:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

Don't mind me. I'm just crankily pointing out the double standard as a cover for my being a little too honest, not realizing that Joy was associated with you in any way.

Every time I promise myself not to write anything about anyone I wouldn't mind having them read, I go and blow it. I've been doing this pretty much since I got on the Internet.

Although it does bother me, philosophically, that I'm willing to write nastier things about people I don't know than about those I do. Doesn't seem right, but doesn't seem like I can stop, either.

11/09/2007 04:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

VBS TV presents Art Talk with Laurel Nakadate. A New York video artist who “stars” in most of her works, along with middle-aged saddies who’ve approached her and invited her home, locales charged with rural American loneliness, an invisible guy humping her, 9/11, and a horny dog. It’s as awesome as it sounds. In part one Laurel discusses the series of projects for which she’s best known–the ones where she hangs out with creepy old leches.


11/14/2007 02:29:00 PM  

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