The title of my Art Center thesis exhibition was taken from one of Walter Benjamin’s “Theses on the Philosophy of History.”
There is a secret agreement between past generations and the present one. Our coming was expected on earth. Like every generation that preceded us, we have been endowed with a weak Messianic power, a power to which the past has a claim. That claim cannot be settled cheaply. Historical materialists are aware of that.
Several works made up the show:
- The title piece consisted of two facing 12-foot high photographic enlargements of Malevich surrounded by his students and a woman in Belarus holding aloft the defunct Soviet flag on the 90th anniversary of the October revolution. In between, a video monitor flashed segments of the image of the woman holding the flag.
- Diet enlarged a reproduction of John Heartfield’s photmontage, Hurrah, die Butter ist alle!
- Empire paired a small photo of Black Panther activist Fred Hampton‘s blood-soaked deathbed with an enlargement of the iconic footprint left on the moon by one of the Apollo 11 astronauts. The floor-placed enlargement was segmented into multiple inkjet prints abutting each other and placed in such a way that to view the picture of Hampton’s deathbed and read the accompanying text, the visitor had to step on the footprint picture on the floor and possibly disrupt it. Hampton was assassinated by Chicago police on December 4, 1969. The moon landing took place July 20, 1969. Forty years later, only the moon landing was widely commemorated.
- POV consisted of 10 images of men undergoing retina scans by Coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. In all the photos, the photographer is positioned behind the soldiers.
- Penal Colony was a column of stacked Styrofoam coffee cups inscribed with the text of Franz Kafka’s story, “In the Penal Colony.” It alluded to both the method of the execution machine in Kafka’s story and a technique used by some Guantanamo Bay inmates to circulate their poems.
Our Coming Was Expected (2010)
Penal Colony (detail, 2010)