Monday, February 28, 2011

Blog Prompt 4

Lippard discusses how “Irony, humor, and subversion are the most common guises and disguises of those artist’s leaping out of the melting pot into the fire” (pg. 199.) Further into the chapter she explains that “by reversing stereotypes of submission, the artists are invalidating the external naming processes that make them outsider and rediscovering the wicked power of humor as an equalizer. Their task is not just demystification, but reclamation” (pg.202). I believe she is referring to the fact that it is easier to cope with difficult situations and make them into something easier when using these mechanisms.
She also explains that “Irony and subversion are used strategically to connect past, present, and future without limiting art or audiences to one time or place” (pg. 200.) I think with these words she is addressing the grave issue of when people become so consumed at looking at something they become accustomed to it whether the issue is good or bad. If you look at the Ester Hernandez, Sun Mad piece you will understand what I am referring to. You will see that upon initial glace it looks like the Sun Maid raisins, which is what I also saw. However when you really examine the piece you see that the artist is referring to and making a statement about the raisins that had been manufactured in her hometown had been contaminated for years from water with too many chemicals.
Of all the art in this chapter I enjoyed, Robert Colescott, Knowledge of the past is the key to the future piece. It shows a black man and a white woman shackled together “in passion.” The fading lips are to represent the surrealistic notion of the piece. The figures to the left and the open and closed books are representing the rewriting of history. All of the books that are closed in a pile to represent history that has pasted and the one open books not in the pile to show that they are free to express themselves how they please.


  1. “Cherokee sculptor Jimmie Durham epitomizes the irony and ferocious humor of “turning around” in contemporary art.” Jimmie Durham is an artist who uses guises and disguises in order to portray humor and irony in his work. His piece “We Are Always Turning Around…On Purpose” he uses trickerism. These trickerisms are used to disguise common issues in the society during the time. Black humor was a big part of the disguise and guise that artists during this time used in their art. They would portray blacks in different characters and aspects of their lives looking happy and full of life. While in reality they were unhappy, bound to be slaves, and serving the rich whites. The artists portrayed this as “black humor” because it became the heart of much of the resistance and projected as the core of antiracist cultural tactics for 70’s activists.
    Some artists resist the melting pot through their art work because they resist conforming to the segregation and racism of the time. Instead they decide to portray black humor, and an icon like Trickster. “Trickster is a strategy that soon became an icon that was painted by both white and black artists.” It was an icon that was defined differently by different classes of people. Some say, “his or her humor is at once arrogant and self deprecatory, or at least defensive-fast-becoming-offensive.”(206) But these artists use trickery and disguises in order to avoid the melting pot of the racism and dominant culture of the Caucasian race. Two Canoes by Jolene Rickard is an example of how artists use the Anglo and Indian cultures in order to create a connection and guise of the issues of the time.

  2. I think that Lippard means that artists develop ways to challenge and subvert the ways that they're "supposed" to be. They continue to find creative ways to call out the ways that society traps them. These techniques take mainstream images and flip them around, changing the context to call out the ways that they're limiting and messed up. I really REALLY like the connection between sarcasm, humor and resistance. It's very powerful sign of resistance that even if a groups liberty, and all material means have been denied, there is great power in approach and attitude. Lippard says, "Nothing is sacred, nothing is safe from the invasion of death-dealing laughter wielded by artists who have so little to lose they're ready to change the world." Being able to laugh at yourself takes away a lot of the oppressor's power to hurt you. There isn't much that's more revolutionary than people with nothing to lose. These approaches illuminate both the views of the dominant culture and the views of "Other" culture. One of my favorite examples of art from text was Rick Glaxer Danay's Indians Are My Favorite Hobby. What's striking about it is the fact that it draws on something that comes directly from the dominant culture, and presents those views clearly. Holding up that mirror shows how troubling those words are.

    As a complete aside: This is only slightly related, but I couldn't help but think of an internet meme while I was reading this chapter. I'm not sure how exactly it got started, but this is how it seems to be showing up: On Tumblr, when someone gets badmouthed, is getting flack from people, loses a follower, or is de-friended, people will post pictures that say "I ain't even mad." This reminds me of the chapter because of this attitude like, "So you look down on me? You think I'm sh*t? I'm not going to let that have control me. Letting it roll off." It's an example of reframing the attitude.

    Two examples: