War is the polar opposite of Art. It represents the combination of diverse forces directed at destruction rather than creation. War is consequently opposed to everything that art represents. Artists have always lived in times of war. Some have ignored it. Others have tried to comment on war through their art works. The “What War?” exhibition is concurrent with the upcoming election as an opportunity to express anger and concern with wars civil and uncivil, holy and unholy, in this oil made world.
The War on Terror, being staged in Afghanistan and Iraq is now 5 years old. The White House says it may take many eyars before this war ends. How can artists think and talk about this seemingly endless war? Meanwhile the rhetoric of war has also been applied to numberous social issue from both sides of the political spectrum. We are told that we are engaged in Wars on Poverty, Illiteracy, Drugs, Crime, Pornography and more covertly, Wars on the Middle Class, Women’s and Gay Rights.
Artists participating in What War? address all Wars in which the enemy is as nebulous as it is elusive through their anger, hostility and rage.
Curated by Eleanor Heartney and Larry Litt Artists from around the world focus their eyes, ears, and talents on the upcoming U.S. congressional and gubernatorial elections.
Robert Boyd’s Judgment Day chronicles the rise of fundamentalist religions around the globe, including audio and video excerpts from Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell of the Christian Right in the U.S.; Ian Paisley of Northern Ireland; Muslim Fundamentalists, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama Bin Laden and Ayatollah Khomeini; Daniella Weiss and Eliezer Waldman of Israel’s Gush Eminum; and Hindu Nationalists Bal Thackeray and L.K. Advani. The video depicts their desperate, increasingly violent, and sometimes successful attempts at establishing theocracies. Further leveling the terrains of religious and political extremism Judgment Day blurs the already indistinct lines between civil necessity and fanaticism, and the shattering consequences thereof. Culminating in the horrific events of September 11, 2001, the video contextualizes this act of terrorism through the lens of a tragic trajectory of fundamentalism.
The works that form Xanadu probe society’s self-destructive impulse while parodying various elements of popular culture such as documentaries, news media, cartoons and pop music. Culled from hundreds of hours of archival footage they tweak, condense and re-frame modern events into seconds-long image bites, re-presenting history as a series of MTV-style music videos. Do sweet dreams of suicide cults, mass annihilation, genocide and the Apocalypse all become part of a self-fulfilling prophecy? Set to saccharin dance tracks, the Xanadu videos suggest that humanity is not apathetic about its own demise but on the contrary – it secretly desires it! Post-production for Judgment Day was provided by the Cuts and Burns Residency Program with funding provided by: Outpost Artists Resources, Inc. Xanadu a place where dreams come true.