Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Ken Gonzales-Day

Thanks first off to PETE for pointing this out. When he told me about 'The Lynching Walking Tour' I thought that it was going to be some kind of sick money making tour. That comes, I think from all those shit Photojournalism workshop scams that came out of Haiti earlier in the year, but no it's not like that, this is Art with conscience.
Last year when URBIS was still URBIS and not a football museum when it's remit was still to educate and not merely entertain and make money, they had a ground breaking exhibition,
BLACK PANTHER: EMORY DOUGLAS AND THE Art of REVOLUTION. As you entered the exhibition on one of the first large walls were several huge, almost 20 foot photographs of lynchings. Shit that was too much for many people myself included. I didn't like the fact that it smacked of sensationalism. I'll just add here and for the record that Emory Douglas wanted them as well as the creative department. I can also see their point of view. In the end they were toned down.
Why am I saying all this? It's by way of an introduction to the work of Ken Gonzales-Day and his series 'Erased Lynching' and the (self guided, and that's an important point) tour that goes with it. By removing images of the victims and the morbid sensationalism and gore, and focusing on the crowds he has managed to concentrate our gaze on the perpetrators. We are forced to look at the faces of ordinary ish people committing sickening acts.
When discussing Art with such a dark subject it seems a bit superficial to talk about the fact that I also found it an interesting use of 'found photographs' appropriation and digital imaging.It also educates me. I have never thought about California in relation to lynchings before. Of course it also raises that old chestnut about photography as document.

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