Author: jetsonorama

baa, baa black sheep…

 

Last month I had an opportunity to get this quickie up at the old Wauneta Trading Post.  Man, a quick Google search reveals that this place had quite the reputation as “the” spot  for bootleggers on the rez to get large quantities of beer back in the day.

We had big rains in October.  A night or two before I installed a 26 year old French woman was involved in a horrible accident on Highway 98.  During one of the big rains a section of Highway 89 washed away in the night.  In the darkness of night vehicles on the highway couldn’t see that a section of highway washed away.   The car driven by the young French woman dropped into a sink hole.  She had 2 other passengers in the car and they all survived.  Stunned, the driver got out of the car and within seconds was hit by a vehicle coming from the other direction trying to avoid the sink hole.

I can’t get over her thinking “…Mon dieu!  What just happened? We just survived that horrific accident” and wham.  It doesn’t seem fair.

In order to get to the site all traffic was rerouted through Hopiland.  In Kykotsmovi traffic went south to Leupp and then onto Highway 89 near Flagstaff.  As much as I wanted to whine about a trip that normally takes 75 minutes taking 3 and 1/2 hours I couldn’t when I thought of the 26 year old French woman who’d been tricked by life.

A storm front bringing the first light snow of the season was coming in from the west.  making for dramatic light and lots of wind.  Such early season storms get people saying things like “…Yeah, we’re due for an El Nino winter.  It’s been a while.”

It has been a while.

water is life

 

 

 

 

 

Last month I received a letter from Maria Singleton, a woman I met in November in Nogales at a demonstration organized by School of Americas Watch.  She identified herself as a member of a humanitarian aid organization based in Ajo, AZ near the U.S., Mexico border.

She wrote “…This last year has been rough for humanitarian aid workers in Ajo with the arrest of Scott Warren and 8 No More Deaths volunteers charged with misdemeanors and fined for leaving water for migrants out on the Cabeza Prieta Wildlife Refuge.  In order to get a permit to enter the wildlife refuge they are requiring people to sign a form that says they will not leave water, socks or first aid items out.  These are the exact items that we leave out for the migrants that are passing through this incredibly dangerous part of the desert.  This policy started last August and resulted in the charges that our friends with No More Deaths are now facing. “

Maria pointed out that she and her partner own property directly across from the entrance to Cabeza Prieta which abuts the Mexican border.  This region has the highest migrant death rate due to the brutality of the desert crossing.  Maria offered the walls of their building which is ironically known as “the ice house” as it was the place where ice was stored for the town of Ajo (during its copper mining boom years from the early 1900s through the 1960s).  She also noted that there will be a faith based action of civil disobedience August 3 – 6 which will be staged in Cabeza Prieta.

As stated by the Faith Floods the Desert organizers “Our purpose in this action is three-fold. First, to call attention to the escalating injustice of US policies toward migrants in order to inspire others to raise their voices. Second, to act in solidarity with the volunteers facing criminal charges for living out their religious mandate to welcome and care for the stranger. And third, to raise the call of our faith traditions as an act of resistance against the cruelty and violence that dominate US policy and actions.”

Joined by a small crew of filmmakers and assistants I journeyed to Ajo to begin to understand what’s happening there and to install the message “water is life.”  We were welcomed warmly by the Ajo activist community to whom I’d like to recognize for their expressions of shared humanity and for their bravery.  Shout out to the world’s finest crew as well – Justin Clifton, Drew Ludwig, Stash Wislocki and Jerrel Singer.

For more information on the impact of this administration’s border policy on humanitarian aid workers

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jan/24/us-immigration-activists-arizona-no-more-deaths-charged

Examples of border patrol activity disrupting humanitarian aid efforts:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqaslbj5Th8

More information on the upcoming Faith Floods the Desert action:

https://uucsj.org/join-us-to-flood-the-desert/ 

Brooklyn Street Art post:  http://www.brooklynstreetart.com/theblog/2018/07/28/destroying-desert-water-bottles-chip-thomas-new-work-in-ajo-arizona/

spirits in a material world (the lazy stitch show)

May 3, 2018 the show “Lazy Stitch” opened.  Organized by artist Cannupa Hanska Luger the promotional material for the show reads “…

AZY STITCH exhibition opened May 3 at Ent Center for Contemporary Art UCCS Galleries of Contemporary Art
Colorado Springs, CO. Organized by Cannupa Hanska Luger with collaborating artists Chip Thomas, Jesse Hazelip, Kali SpitzerKathy Whitman & 1000 Tiny Mirrors. Lazy Stitch is on exhibition through July 21, 2018

Contemporary artists from diverse backgrounds work together in collaboration with artist Cannupa Hanska Luger to present a new exhibition that investigates the interconnectedness of the human story. Through social engagement, public art, monumental sculpture, mural installation, photography, performance and wearable sculptural regalia, Lazy Stitch takes the relationship of the bead and the thread as its context, co-creating narrative about life on this planet.

“What constitutes a bead is the hole. It holds the thread. The voided matter actually creates the function of the object. This void becomes the potential for connection. In this respect, finding value in the relationship between humans acknowledges the importance of intersecting experiences which create a larger narrative.” -Cannupa Hanska Luger

The term lazy stitch describes a sewing methodology often used in Indigenous beadwork. Individual multi-colored beads are threaded and sewn, one row at a time, eventually revealing a complex image when all rows are complete. The lazy stitch is an approach to craft-making, but also represents a value system in which each individual is important to the whole. Lazy Stitch uses this metaphor as a way to explore contemporary issues through collaborative practice, while revealing the potential for collective social agency.”

This past February I spent a weekend with Cannupa, artist Cheyenne Randall and curator Erin Joyce.  It was this time that afforded me the opportunity to learn stories about deities from the Mandan Hidatsa Arikara of North Dakota.  Cannupa gave the framework of the warrior twins Big Medicine and Black Medicine (whom he referred to as “The One Who Checks” and “The One Who Balances”).  For this show he imagined them as spirit guides who returned to the material plane to remind those who know, those who read the signs that it’s time for us to address our environment + social injustices.  Cannupa and Cheyenne spent a day dressed in the regalia Cannupa and his mom, Kathy Whitman made for spirit beings as they went about their day engaging in acts of civil disobedience with the infrastructure of the extractive fossil fuel industry, getting food from a local trading post and getting gas from another trading post.  A day in the life with the hero archetypes…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lazy Stitch

tintype photo by kali spitzer with the beaded portrait created by cannupa + various communities collaborating with the project by making clay beads.

 

jesse hazelip pasteups of bomber buffaloes

 

 

decorated ceramic buffalo skulls + barbed wire sculpture by cannupa + jesse

 

rope performance by 1000 tiny mirrors

 

 

the warrior twins battling the extractive fossil fuels industry beast

 

Limited edition (50), hand-pulled screen print “spirits in a material world.”  One hundred percent of sales from the first 25 prints sold (at $50/print) resulted in $1250 being donated to the National Women’s Association of Canada.    They state on their website “…The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) has worked for more than four decades to document the systemic violence impacting Indigenous women, girls, their families, and communities. From 2005 to 2010, NWAC’s Sisters In Spirit (SIS) Initiative confirmed 582 cases of missing and/or murdered Indigenous women and girls over a span of twenty years and worked to raise awareness of this human rights issue. ”  The remaining 25 prints will be sold through Justseeds.org.

new screen prints!

 

19 x 25, one color hand pulled screen print on archival paper; edition of 75.  This print was made originally for School of the Americas Border Encuentro 2017.   $50.

 

 

Three Wee Kings …………… Colonialist version

Free Wee Kings …………….Abolitionist version

We Free Kings ……………. Roland Kirk version, 1961

 

2 color, hand pulled, limited edition print of 50 on archival paper.  $50

 

NPR’s Morning Edition “Listen” ad

npr’s new “fully awake” ads:  http://www.adweek.com/creativity/nprs-new-ads-promise-to-help-you-become-fully-awake-to-the-truth/

full 30 second spot:

 

Discussion from Facebook with my friend and activist Lane Hall regarding working with commercial entities and the dangers one may not have considered in contributing to the society of the spectacle…

Lane Hall I love your work – the roadside stands, the water towers, homages to the people involved in the area. I love your amazing facility with images, especially close-ups. I am happy for you with this NPR opportunity, but not sure about it. It makes me uneasy, just as the requests for OLB as advert (regardless of the affiliation) has done the same (which we haven’t pursued as a general policy)… I do respect that you must have done some soul searching to do this, and came out with it as a personal positive, so am not saying this to rain on the parade here, but it really does change your work!

me:  lane, thanks so much for your feedback. interestingly, i’m at “into action” in l.a. this weekend where the feeling of being a sell out is exacerbated. one of the factors that led to my agreeing to take part in this project is the consent of all the people photographed who for the first time were reimbursed for the use of their imagery. while i see the npr project as a one off opportunity i will continue doing the work i’ve been doing for marginalized communities.
Lane:  thanks for the response. I was hesitant to write what I did, because I don’t want it to seem a critique or accusation of “sell out.” Indeed, I think that such a term is ridiculously low on nuance. I am more concerned about how such a corporate sponsor repositions the work, and not just that specific work, but the work that leads up to it, and indeed, continues. Of course, repositioning happens with everything – gallery shows, museum shows, more “grassroots” sponsorships than NPR… all of those bring baggage.
Lane:  But I do want to be clear in my appreciation for all that you are doing. You can’t imagine how much your work inspires me, even, and especially, in these dark times!
me:  interestingly, i don’t get to have this conversation with folks and am appreciative of the opportunity. i’m sure there are others who identify me as a sell-out but who haven’t shared it. in this ad npr was looking for inclusivity and representation of communities frequently overlooked and/or whose representation in media is negative. as a morning edition listener i was happy to get the opportunity as my photography has always been about challenging mainstream narratives. whenever i get money from my art related projects i use that money to bring artists to the reservation to create art. this includes indigenous artists. having no other paying projects lined up this year this too was a factor in deciding to do the ad as it’ll allow me to continue the painted desert project. and as i mentioned before it helps that the people photographed were into it. 
Lane:  Great to hear about the feedback loop regarding funding going back into community projects. 
NPR is a strange one…. it seems to have gotten more and more corporate and “let’s hear both sides” as a kind of false narrative of balance, yet at times it is exceptional. It is especially important in non urban communities (used to keep me sane as a carpenter working in non-urban areas). Have you thought of trying to do fundraisers that would go directly into Painted Desert Project Funds for “scholarships” to bring in artists? I just followed Radical Mycology’s funding to start a school (online) in Portland… man, they did really well… made their goal (65k) in three days, ended with twice that!

me:  i wish i had the time to pursue seeking nonprofit status and to do fundraising and grants. as a one person operation working a 40 hour a week job whose primary passion is just getting work up i can’t do it all. sadly, i’ll have more time to pursue this once i retire but i’lm no longer be living on the reservation. with regard to the ad, i wish it’d been for “democracy now” or “free speech tv” but alas, it was npr. i guess the question is if i were given the opportunity to do this again, would i? at this point i don’t know. 

Lane Hall Thank you for not taking offense. I should be clear (for other commenters) about how much your work means to me.

me:  Lane, talk more about how doing this project with NPR and the ad agency changes the work.

Lane Hall When your work is an image of a person that you know, and it is independently applied to a structure in the area you live, it has a quality of completeness… it has no other need than itself, it indexes nothing but its own visibility, that of the person, the location, the action of making visible. This would be true even if you came to my community and worked with people here, it would simply be a different relationship. However, when your work is part of a sponsored campaign of visibility for a function like NPR, it becomes indexical, pointing both to itself, but also to NPR. In such a system, the sponsoring entity pays to have the aura of your authenticity glow onto them. They are paying for your energy, in a very real sense. The primary index (work as a means to itself) can get lost in the secondary index (work as a means towards NPR’s identity campaign). This isn’t a horrible thing, as they in turn give you energy (money) that you can use for further projects, but this is how it changes the work. The work shifts in “ends and means” terms… from an end in itself towards a means to some other agency’s ends. You become absorbed into their spectacle, to put it in Situationist terms…
me:  again, thanks for this. by extension of this argument any work that isn’t context/place based loses authenticity. for example, the image of stephanie that i pasted in reno that came from a campaign to raise awareness about a sacred site in flagstaff is also inappropriately used?

Lane Hall I didn’t say anything about “appropriate” or “inappropriate” use, merely that these things change the location of the work’s meaning. The example you give above seems very consistent with the intentions of your work. The sacred site (example) is quite different than a large corporation (even a not-for-profit). Using my “double indexing” idea, the large corporation’s needs begin to eclipse the imagery itself (hence, the “absorption into spectacle”) while the sacred site awareness campaign is deeply connected to the imagery (a much closer relationship) and doesn’t absorb the image into spectacle. But I don’t know, what do you think? Does it feel different?

Lane Hall btw… we collaborate with small social justice groups all the time… even larger ones like 350, MTEA, etc… so I think about this a lot. It might well be that the benefits for a project like NPR far exceed the tradeoffs… in a good way beyond $$, such as visibility for other projects, helping you build a reputation beyond what you already have, which in turn, helps all other less visible projects… these are all judgements that we, as artists, are fortunate to be able to make!

me:  dude, thank you again for engaging me in this conversation. it’s all a learning experience.
Lane Hall is a Milwaukee, WI based artist, activist and mycology enthusiast who is cultivating and foraging mushrooms.  He founded the activist organization Overpass Light Brigade (overpasslightbrigade.org).  More information can be found about their work here:
“be the change” = https://vimeo.com/214923058
“enbridge line 5” = https://vimeo.com/214922034
Test markets for the “fully awake” spot include Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Austin and Philly.

we are the people who are darker than blue (art space – new haven, ct)

If your mind could really see
You’d know you’re color the same as me
Pardon me, brother, as you stand in your glory
I know you won’t mind if I tell the whole story

Get yourself together, learn to know your side
Shall we commit our own genocide
Before you check out your mind?

I know we’ve all got problems
That’s why I’m here to say
Keep peace with me and I with you
Let me love in my own way

We people who are darker than blue
Are we gonna stand around this town
And let what others say come true?
We’re just good for nothing they all figure

A boyish, grown up, shiftless jigger
Now we can’t hardly stand for that
Or is that really where it’s at?
We people who are darker than blue

“We Are the People Who Are Darker Than Blue”

Curtis Mayfield                                           1970

In 1998 a physician buddy who was working for the CDC in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire managing a HIV education and treatment project invited me to shoot a photo essay on the work they were doing. We spent time in hospitals, outreach clinics that did hiv testing + treatment, birth control counseling, and with hiv/aids support groups.  Although it was an emotionally exhausting 2 weeks I witnessed a lot of heartfelt support + love amongst the people impacted by the disease. I witnessed 20 people burst into cheers and cry tears of happiness when they were able to establish a phone connection with one of their members of the AIDS support group.   The last place I visited was an orphanage for children with HIV/AIDS or whose parents died from AIDS.

One might suspect an AIDs orphanage in an impoverished country to be a depressing place but I have honestly never seen a place so much spirit, hope and optimism. Kids, given the opportunity, will be kids.

(my artist statement for the group show “between beauty + demise” art space new haven, ct.  curated by erin joyce.)

School of the Americas Watch Border Encuentro (November 10 – 12)

This past weekend was spent at the SOAW Border Encuentro in Tucson, AZ and Nogales, Sonora, Mexico.  The U.S. Army School of the Americas, now known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, is located at Fort Benning, Georgia.  As stated on Wikipedia “The School of the Americas was founded in 1946 and from 1961 was assigned the specific goal of teaching “anti-communist counterinsurgency training,” a role which it would fulfill for the rest of the Cold War.[3] In this period, it educated several Latin American dictators, generations of their military and, during the 1980s, included the uses of torture in its curriculum.[4][5]In 2000/2001, the institute was renamed to WHINSEC.[6][7]:233 [8]”

“During the Cold War Colombia supplied the largest number of students from any client country.[7]:17 As the Cold War drew to a close around 1990, United States foreign policy shifted focus from “anti-communism” to the War on Drugs, with narcoguerillas replacing “communists”.[7]:10

“School of the Americas Watch is an advocacy organization founded by former Maryknoll Father Roy Bourgeois and a small group of supporters in 1990 to protest the training of mainly Latin American military officers, by the United States Department of Defense, at the School of the Americas (SOA). Most notably, SOA Watch conducts a vigil each November at the site of the academy, located on the grounds of Fort Benning, a U.S. Army military base near Columbus, Georgia, in protest over human rights abuses committed by some graduates of the academy or under their leadership, including murdersrapes and torture and contraventions of the Geneva Conventions.[1]”

Since 2016 School of the Americas Watch moved their vigil from Fort Benning, GA to the border wall in Nogales to protest the militarization of  the border.  As taken from the SOAW website “…SOA Watch is a nonviolent grassroots movement working to close the SOA / WHINSEC and similar centers that train state actors such as military, law enforcement and border patrol. We strive to expose, denounce, and end US militarization, oppressive US policies and other forms of state violence in the Americas.  We act in solidarity with organizations and movements working for justice and peace throughout the Americas.”

Proceedings began in Tucson with a block printing workshop by fellow Justseeds member Thea Gahr.

My collaborators in creating the image used for the backdrop, Raechel Running and Thea Gahr. (The above 3 photos are by Saiyare Refaei.)

That evening there was a vigil at Eloy Detention Center outside Tucson. Opened in 1994 Eloy Detention Center is a private prison contracted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement where immigrants from surrounding cities are detained sometimes for years.  The center houses both men and women.  An investigation by The Arizona Republic in 2016 found the center to have the highest number of deaths in the U.S.  There have been 15 deaths since 2003 including 5 suicides.  One of the more moving aspects of the vigil was seeing silhouettes of detainees in windows who communicated with demonstrators by turning lights on + off in their cells and by banging on windows.  We learned that the price the detainees pay for this communication is a restriction of their privileges such as visitations with family and legal representation.

 

 

The time in Nogales included workshops, speeches, music and art.  One of the more moving moments included the arrival and participation of a group of activists from Oaxaca who traveled 3 days to participate.  Their journey included stopping along the way to meet with and lend solidarity to other immigration grass roots groups.

(The 2 photos above are by Saiyare Refaei.)

Screen printed posters were made at the event and were given away for free.   We also printed on t shirts and other pieces of clothing provided by participants.

 

Thea getting assistance from across the border.

 

Sweet sage smudge blessing through the border wall with crosses along the bottom of the wall bearing the names of migrants who died over the past year while crossing the Sonoran Desert or in detention.

Crosses with a name of the deceased are raised as people say “presente!” upon hearing the names of those who have perished trying to cross the Sonoran Desert in pursuit of their dreams. An image of hope saying “tear down the walls; build up the people” is in the background.

SOAW demands:

  • An end to US economic, military and political intervention in Latin America
  • Demilitarization and divestment of the borders
  • An end to the racist systems of oppression that criminalize and kill migrants, refugees and communities of color
  • Respect, dignity, justice and the right to self-determination of communities
  • An end to Plan Mérida and the Alliance for Prosperity

End of the encuentro but the struggle continues…

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