Exhibition curator Rex Weil sent us a snapshot of the Pinky Show section in the Picturing Politics: Artists Speak to Power exhibition at the Arlington Arts Center going on right now.
The vitrine on the left has Pinky Show zines and stickers in it. It's a bit weird to see something like zines encased behind plexiglass but if it wasn't probably the zines would walk away very quickly. The shabby Pinky Show poster ('laminated' with packing tape) on the left is the poster we usually have in our office - we take that poster with us every time we do a workshop or go somewhere to speak, so it's pretty beat up.
The only thing that concerns us about the installation is the apparent lack of wall text for the two large pieces. I wrote some text to be placed next to them - from the picture it looks like it wasn't included. (I wrote to the curator to ask - he wrote back to say that he wasn't sure it if was included or not; he's checking) It bugs me when museums don't include information that help explain the objects on display. If a context is not provided, I think it becomes too easy for the museum visitors to think of the art work only in terms of what it looks like.
[ Bunny: The wall text that was supposed to be placed next to the art work is below. Anyone who wants to see the images more close-up can see them in our Commons Gallery - just click on the On Native Land series icon. ]
I'M ON UR LAND..., Version 2.0
Pinky & Bunny
Giclée on canvas, 24 x 30 inches
Pinky notes: Among other things, maps are a fundamentally important instrument of conquest. In the case of the "New World", the mapping of native peoples and lands helped settlers conceptualize and orient themselves to their new and unfamiliar surroundings.
This image references John Smith's well-known map of the area now commonly referred to as Virginia. Comparisons with later maps of the same area clearly illustrate the extent to which settlers have succesfully erased Native people from the land - via displacement, forceful removal, introduction of diseases, and outright killing.
As you can see, there's not many English language place-names on this map. It's not unusual for documents to live multiple lives - at one time a useful tool to be utilized in the service of conquest, and now a document that helps to dispel commonly held settler myths - for example: "When we arrived, the land was vacant; there was hardly anybody here. There was no genocide."
Bunny notes: Looks like the native guy's quiver is made from the front half of a dog! lol
On Native Land triptych (left-side panel)
Pinky & Bunny
Giclée on canvas, 24 x 36 inches.
Pinky notes: This piece is the left-side panel of a triptych (approximately nine feet across) titled On Native Land. Together the three panels name imperial culture, militarism, and occupation as basic structuring elements of the United States of America, currently the planet's most powerful settler state.
This image, with its huge columns and the D.C. Mall in the background, is a reference to how imperial culture and symbolic form are deployed to shape popular narratives and provide the empire with a strong sense of identity.
The middle image (not included in this exhibition), a nuclear explosion at the Nevada Test Site, refers to militarism and direct use of force (sometimes just the threat of force will do) in the service of building and maintaining an empire. The right-side image, a photograph of Arlington National Cemetery (also not included in this exhibition), is a reference to the seizure and use of native land by settlers for settler interests.
Of course there are other aspects of empire that warrant discussion, but we think talking about how these three mechamisms work together is a useful starting point.
The triptych may be viewed in its entirety at the Pinky Show website (www.pinkyshow.org) in our Commons Gallery.
[ Kim: Wow that sucks that they didn't put your text next to the paintings! Isn't it ironic that the show's title is "Picturing Politics 2008: Artists Speak to Power" and here they are limiting what you can show and what you can say? That's too funny! ]
[ Pinky: Kim, I don't have any information if the wall text has been included or not, if it was intentionally excluded, or what. As of today (8/29) I'm still waiting for a reply. ]