Compare and Contrast: Fake Iraqs

December 20, 2007

Following on from the discussion in the previous post, part of my ambivalence about the art market comes from thinking that the status of something as an art object doesn’t preclude its status as evidence.  Or in the case of these images: they’re part of my thesis show dealing with fantasy and militarism, they’re source material for a book of essays also on fantasy and militarism but taking a very different approach, and finally they appeal to me as the source for an academic paper on the visual semiotics of “realism” in two different branches of the military: Army and Marines.

The difference isn’t as striking here as it is when you visit the bases, but the use of similar materials to very different ends does make for (I think) something worth talking about both within and outside of an art context.

Army:

army4a.jpg

army3a.jpg

army2a.jpg

army1a.jpg

Marines:

marines10a.jpg

marines09a.jpg

marines06a.jpg

marines05a.jpg

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4 Responses to “Compare and Contrast: Fake Iraqs”

  1. AdamFeldmeth Says:

    I don’t hold this position myself, but some might say your are wanting the cake and eating it to. Not sure if this is necessarily the right expression; I think it works a little. What I am meaning though is that you have your topic (military/realism) and you have your source material (photographs from Fake Iraq). As you are dealing with your topic on multiple levels in multiple forms and your material can be applied helpfully to any one of them why not insert it into any form that it can fit into. While a puzzle might have 50 pieces all of different shape creating in the end only one complete picture, the 50 pieces cookie cutter is most likely used for multiple complete puzzle pictures and you could swap out piece D16 in the cat puzzle for D16 in the plane puzzle and the piece would fit, yet this disrupts the image slightly.

    I recall when Simon Norfolk came to speak in the Fall of 04 at Calarts a couple members of the audience during the Q&A strongly criticized his claims in being able to both uphold a stake in photo journalism and contemporary art with the same source material.

  2. Nicholas Says:

    I think you’re missing the point, a little–the idea isn’t that I can just claim whatever I make as X one minute and Y another minute but that I want the work that I make to have use value beyond that of a luxury object. I have nothing against luxury objects, and if I had the $$ I would do projects addressing luxury objects as art (for example: “vintage” t-shirts or Jerry Garcia neckties) but that’s well-covered territory and what I really want is for someone as poor and out of the loop as I am to be able to get as much use value out of work I make as a collector gets out of the prestige/ownership/tax shelter cycle.

    And I think probably, in ’04, people were much less freaked out by Norfolk than the dreaded “J” word, because the last thing most artists want is to think of themselves as providers of a service for a regular fee.

  3. AdamFeldmeth Says:

    I lean towards your notion of access of excess myself. I am wondering what that use value would be for a poor and/or out of the loop individual as it would not be the prestige/ownership/tax shelter cycle.

    If the books and pdf are for the poor individual, the gallery prints are still for the rich one?

  4. Anonymous Says:

    What I mean is that while it’s not for me to proscribe what art should or shouldn’t do, the art that I am interested in and the kind of art I want to make is art which functions approximately the same way an academic paper functions: to 1) let people know about things or relationships or gaps they might not already know about and 2) raise questions about the world that anyone who encounters the work can do with what they will. Examples of artists who are/were experts at this are Adrian Piper, Hans Haacke, Martha Rosler, Douglas Huebler, Cady Noland and Felix Gonzalez-Torres.

    Of course, I also want this exchange/delivery of information to be pleasurable, both for myself (because I’m selfish) and for people who may come across my work, because you catch more flies with honey etc. etc. Visual art is often very pleasurable, in a variety of ways, which makes it a viable alternative to just writing research papers. But what I want to do is: both.

    So that’s why I’ve decided to be in the end-of-year show, but to just give work away for free.


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