Standing Back to Think
“There is nothing wrong with standing back and thinking. To paraphrase several sages: 'Nobody can think and hit someone at the same time.'” — Susan Sontag in, Regarding the Pain of Others
Please remember to complete your student survey of the class on Blackboard!!
All course work due on Wednesday, May 10!!
Hilja Keading, The Bonkers Devotional, 2010.











"For his first exhibition at White Cube in 2009, Zhang Huan created an installation and series of paintings based on a renowned survivor of the recent earthquake in the Sichuan Province of China, a pig that lived, trapped, for 49 days after the quake, surviving on rainwater, rotten wood and a small amount of foraged feed. His survival was hailed as a miracle and he was given the name ‘Zhu Gangqiang’ (‘Cast – Iron – Pig’). According to Buddhist scripture, 49 days is the amount of time that a soul remains on earth between death and transmigration. The pig’s fortitude resonated with Zhang Huan, who drew broad parallels with his own narrative as both outsider and survivor, while the drive to persevere and retain hope, even under extreme pressure, recalls the spirit of Zhang in his early performance art. Using incense ash from Buddhist temples as his medium, he created a series of paintings on linen honouring Zhu Gangqiang. along with a number of vanitas paintings featuring skulls. Both groups of work celebrate the fleeting, sometimes heroic, nature of existence and the quiet, inevitability of the life cycle."
- White Cube
Zhang Huan, Zhu Gangqiang No. 9, 2009. Incense ash on linen, 43 5/16 x 59 1/16 in.





















Olga Koumoundouros, Notorious Possesion, 2012.











subjecthood = the condition or state of being a subject
"It's in the act of having to do things that you don't want to that you learn something about moving past the self. Past the ego." - bell hooks
Wangechi Mutu, Family Tree, 2012.
Mixed-media collage on paper, 16.25 x 12.25 inches.











Wangechi Mutu, A Shady Promise, 2006. Mixed media on Mylar.











"Wangechi Mutu observes, 'Females carry the marks, language and nuances of their culture more than the male. Anything that is desired or despised is always placed on the female body.' Piecing together magazine imagery with painted surfaces and found materials, Mutu’s collages explore the split nature of cultural identity, referencing colonial history, fashion and contemporary African politics. In Adult Female Sexual Organs, Mutu uses a Victorian medical diagram as a base: an archetype of biased anthropology and sexual repression. The head is a caricatured mask – made of packing tape, its material makes reference to bandages, migration, and cheap ‘quick-fix’ solutions. Mutu portrays the inner and outer ideals of self with physical attributes clipped from lifestyle magazines: the woman’s face being a racial distortion, her mind occupied by a prototypical white model. Drawing from the aesthetics of traditional African crafts, Mutu engages in her own form of story telling; her works document the contemporary myth-making of endangered cultural heritage." - Merrily Kerr, Wangechi Mutu's Extreme Makeovers
Wangechi Mutu, Ectopic Pregnancy from the Adult Female Sexual Organs series, 2006.











Zackary Drucker and Amos Mac, Distance is Where the Heart is, Home is Where You Hang Your Heart, 2012.











Zackary Drucker and Amos Mac, Distance is Where the Heart is, Home is Where You Hang Your Heart, 2012.











“People don't become inured to what they are shown - if that's the right way to describe what happens - because of the quantity of images dumped on them. It is passivity that dulls feeling. The states described as apathy, moral or emotional anesthesia, are full of feelings; the feelings are rage and frustration." — Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others
Alfredo Jaar, May, 2011.












"By means of a sophisticated composition of the cleverly staged scene the U.S. government breaks with the long historical and cultural-political tradition of publicly displaying the slain war opponent. The days of "seeing is believing" are over. Obama asked the public to believe without seeing. Because seeing in this case would involve catastrophic risks and dangers - as the President publicly stated." - Nafas Art Magazine











“War has been the norm and peace the exception.” — Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others
Jenny Holzer, Selection from The Survival Series, 1983 - 1985.











“Indeed, the very first acknowledgment (as far as I am aware) of the attraction of mutilated bodies occurs in a founding description of mental conflict. It is a passage in The Republic, Book IV, where Plato’s Socrates describes how our reason may be overwhelmed by an unworthy desire, which drives the self to become angry with a part of its nature.” — Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others
Nina Berman, Tyler and Renee (from the Marine Wedding series), 2006.











Nina Berman, Marine Sgt. Tyler Ziegel, 2006.











Nina Berman, Ty with Gun, 2006.











Ken Gonzales Day, Erased Lynching, 2005.











Ken Gonzalez Day, About a hundred yards from the road (from the Hang Trees series), 2002.
Ken Gonzalez Day, Next morning when Jimmy woke, the cowboys were gone (from the Hang Trees series), 2002.











“The concern is that the images to be devised won't be sufficiently upsetting: not concrete, not detailed enough. Pity can entail a moral judgement if, as Aristotle maintains, pity is considered to be the emotion that we owe only to those enduring undeserved misfortune. But pity, far from being the natural twin of fear in the dramas of catastrophic misfortune, seems diluted—distracted—by fear, while fear (dread, terror) usually manages to swamp pity. Leonardo is suggesting that the artist's gaze be, literally, pitiless. The image should appall, and in that terribilità lies a challenging kind of beauty.” — Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others
Elizabeth Neel, Pintura, 2008.











Myths of Rape (2012), 2012, performance by Audrey Chan and Elana Mann at the LA Art Show, a reinterpretation of Leslie Labowitz-Starus’ In Mourning and Rage (1977), part of Suzanne Lacy’s Three Weeks in May (1977).
Leslie Labowitz-Starus, In Mourning and Rage, 1977.












Elana Mann, Ass on the Street, 2009.
Elana Mann, Learning to Live with the All of It, 2016.











“That we are not totally transformed, that we can turn away, turn the page, switch the channel, does not impugn the ethical value of an assault by images. It is not a defect that we are not seared, that we do not suffer enough, when we see these images. Neither is the photograph supposed to repair our ignorance about the history and causes of the suffering it picks out and frames. Such images cannot be more than an invitation to pay attention, to reflect, to learn, to examine the rationalizations for mass suffering offered by established powers. Who caused what the picture shows? Who is responsible? Is it excusable? Was it inevitable? Is there some state of affairs which we have accepted up to now that ought to be challenged? All this, with the understanding that moral indignation, like compassion, cannot dictate a course of action.” — Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others
Walton Ford, American Flamingo, 1992.











“The pigeons, arriving by thousands, alighted everywhere, one above another, until solid masses were formed on the branches all round. Here and there the perches gave way under the weight with a crash, and, falling to the ground, destroyed hundreds of the birds beneath.” - John Jame Audubon, while traveling through Kentucky
Walton Ford, Falling Bough, 2002.
Watercolor, gouache, and pencil and ink on paper
60 1/2 x 119 1/2 inches.









Elana Mann, Donald Trumpet, as seen in the Assonaut Armory exhibition at Commonwealth & Council, 2016.