Friday, August 10, 2007

Sequestrados/ Hostages

Hostages, Series of 6, Steel, Mixed Media, 55cm x 20cm (each), 2007

This series has two objectives, the first was to capture in my language the desperation and the degradation that people who are sequestered are subjected to. This train of thought began from an image i saw as part of an article in the New Yorker. The article "Betrayed" by George Packer (New Yorker, 3/26/2007), is about the treatment of Iraqi's who have been playing support roles for the american army during the war there and how the american army or certain elements of it have come to make life impossible and excedingly dangerous for these people. In the article appears an absolutely gruesome and appalling image (above) of an unidentified man's body that has been left discarded on a roadside trash heap. This image haunted me and made me think about the liberties that we so often take for granted without having to fear that someone was going to drag us out of the house in the middle of the night off to the local garbage dump for a bullet in the back of the head.

photo by Christoph Bangert

The image ingrained itself into my head almost to the point of obsession, one thing was obvious I wanted to work with the image. I scanned the image and did a drawing and at the moment it's still in progress but you can see it in it's current state below. I like it's current representation beacause it's not immediately evident what it is and hence the viewer has to work a bit to determine the material.

work in progress, steel, jute

From this point of departure I continued to develop my line of thinking but limit it to people being sequestered not assassinated. It's all to often that when the news roles around we are confronted by some journalist, public figure, or just some innocent bystander bound and gagged with some armed revolutionary guards standing heavily armed close by. Mind you this is not a practice that is solely exercised in the middle east nor is it my intention to focus on any given region. My ambition is simply to introduce the brutality of these images into another arena in hopes of giving the viewer an opportunity to digest and reflect on these situations in a different manner. It is in no way my meaning to trivialize these occurences. The following images were taken from photos that I made of people in my studio and any resemblance to other images of a similar nature is coincidental and due to the subject matter.

Hostage #3, Steel, Jute, Plastic bag, 55cm x 22cm, 2007

Consumer advocacy or the lack there of

Hostage #1 The Stupid Consumer (El Consumidor Estupido) , Steel, Jute, Fabric, 55cm x 22cm, 2007

Hostage #1 brings me to the second agenda i have while developing these series. Hostage #1 is a piece that developed when i reflected on how everyday citizens are often, through misinformation, clever marketing, half truths, simple oversight, under education and sometimes just sheer stupidity are duped into situations where they are legally bound to something that is not in their best interest. In a sense held hostage. My specific focus now is in Spain because that is my current experience. Here I feel there is no tradition of safeguarding consumer rights and it is well documented that Spain lags behind in opening up certain markets to 'real' competition. This maintains a sort of government approved monopoly where the consumer is held hostage to the whatever power happens to be in control in that particular industry and whatever price they value there product at. Recently the european union overstepped the spanish telecommunications regulatory commission and fined Telefonica, the local 'Grande' in telcom, over 150 million euros for what it saw as unfair market practices concerning the the provision of Bandwith to it's customers. That leaves alot to the imagination as to the links between Telefonica and the local regulatory commission in charge of monitoring it's practices.
Recently in the region of Catalunya, whose capital is Barcelona, after a fire in an electric substation vast areas of the city were left without light for days on end. It has come to light that the whole system is dangerously inadequate for the demands that are placed upon it and that the local power company could almost be considered criminally negligent in allowing the situation to degrade to such an extent. Hospitals, public transport, traffic signaling systems, etc. were all left without power and a series of flatbed generators had to be placed in strategic points across the city to serve as a makeshift solution. generators that emit more noise than legally allowed in public spaces as well as compromising the air quality as they are all diesel generators. One would think if they don't give you choice they should at least provide stability. Thousands of people and businesses were compromised to the point where the government had to step in and oblige compensation for those affected. On one side one could argue that perhaps prices need to be raised to maintain the upkeep of the system, on the other side one could argue for more transperency and truly effective regulatory commissions that provide the security and confidence that paying customers deserve. This work is by no means meant to devalue the experience of people who are forcibly and violently held beyond their will worldwide. It is meant to draw a strong parallel between such actions with those of organizations that have an obligation to provide basic necessities but through the application of what could be considered sinister business practices are responsible for the degradation of millions of peoples lives.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Sunday on the Terrace

"Sunday on the Terrace", 350cm x 120cm, Steel, 2007

Recently I went to a brunch on the terrace of a friend of mine in the neighborhood of Barceloneta. These brunches are normally replete with a staggering mix of people from all over and are hosted by connector extraordinaire Sandy Brunner, an architect native of Zurich. I have been going to these brunches for a few years now and in fact one of these brunches a few years back also provided the source material for a drawing in steel of a group of sardines which Sandy now owns. Anyway at a certain point I began to note the variety of postures people were assuming while laying in two plastic reclining lawn chairs that were on the terrace. People were assuming the most relaxed and languid positions that I began to think that I might be able to do a piece involving the material. Out comes the camera.

This is the first image that really made me think about the potential of using this material in a piece. It's a photo of a friend, Fery Rohrer, and it served as a point of departure for the creation of "Sunday on the Terrace". My desire with the piece was really to capture a completely normal moment and all the poetry inherent in it. Each individual posture is an incredibly complex equation which I believe can communicate alot about a persons current relationship to their surroundings. By doing four figures I have also created an imaginary dialogue which can actually be manipulated by changing the positions of the figures.

This piece is also exhibited on Sandy Brunner's terrace. It seems that her terrace is a spot that I find inspiring.