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artofmulata

i`m your puppet now…

Category Archives: photography


shadows 1,
originally uploaded by artofmulata.

coming back from the implied violence performances in new york has been difficult. sleepless nights, moving to my new home, changes in attitude towards friends and the idea of what constitutes a relationship.

i`ve been doing a lot of soul searching and reading deleuze. his work is always grounding and helpful. especially the 1000 plateaus stuff he produced with guattari.

the other day, the degenerate art ensemble had a listening party for their new album. i`ve got some work on it, lyrics and singing; it`s pretty fantastic. when it`s available i`ll post procurement info!

the photo is one i took of a friend. loving the high contrast right now. sometimes the lack of detail says more…

it’s really hard to write any more about this. the theft has been traumatic. i actually started crying the other night. and i get panicked if i’m in the art space for too long, convinced that the thieves are back, running amuck, while i’m there. it’s absolutely horrible at times.

i’ve been talking to everyone about it. and all my friends, you, have been so very supportive. and i couldn’t ask for better friends. thank you.

the only advice i’ve been getting is to move on and how to do so. and i am taking that advice. i’ve made the move to do something i’ve been wanting to do for a long time and that is making my first film. i mentioned that before, i know, but i’ve actually set a date for shooting. july 27th. it’s the most exciting and frightening thing i’ve done in a long time. even more than chasing down that lovely woman in korea last year for a two month date to europe and africa. well, maybe not that scary…

last year i decided that i wanted to make the move to photography. and secretly i had decided i also wanted to get into film making. photography was no problem, but stepping into motion pictures? that was tough. no equipment. no training. no connections. how to start?

luckily it just fell into my lap. like so many other wonderful things and opportunities. dk pan just looked at me one day and said, “why don’t you make a movie? you can use my camera.” jesus, dk, are you ever going to stop accidentally upgrading my life? thank you!

so i’m working on it. and it’ll debut in august. i’ll let everyone know the details of the showing and you can all watch me whimper and freak out in public. and if you have any comments i will be open to them. scared, but open.

turn it on.

since i’ve been through so much in the last week i have barely been taking pictures. it’s just too depressing. my biggest decision has been whether to get a new laptop or buy a smart, new camera. at this time i’m thinking of a camera; the canon rebel series comes highly recommended. and now that i doing a worktrade with the photo center northwest it seems like a great idea.

maybe the transition into a new field of operation for me, from dancer/musician/performer, will actually occur. i hope so. i’d like to think that all this work in other fields will translate. that my work in the other genres will be beneficial to my new eye. and i have ideas. just wait. you’ll see. and hopefully i’ll continue to keep you amused so you’ll keep inviting me to dinner and drinks. thanks for the dinner and drinks!

some old shots to keep you entertained. enjoy:

a crumbling building in cheunchon, south korea

a crumbling building in cheunchon, south korea
working on an old dance theater piece with anna b as the mummy
working on an old dance theater piece with anna b as the mummy
a mobile sound device in japan

a mobile sound device in japan

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life is never easy.

but sometimes, if you find love, it’s not so bad…

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once again i’ve been caught with my pants up…

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not resting my heels…

lately, i’ve been working on a new piece. it’s a large scale performance that will be shown via the scraps of its passing, its detritus…

essentially, i’m going to attempt to recreate the site or space of a lynching. i want to bring together various performers and myself and enact a similar spectacle to what might have occurred in the 1920s or 30s here in the united states at an actual lynching. gather together enough actors and other types of performers to recreate a small town hosting a typical lynch party.

there’ll be a photographer, steve miller, to document it via stills. he’s the main documenter. and a wonderful collaborator. there will also be people making amateur video and others making audio field recordings. the exhibition will consist of photos and videos and audio atmospheres attempting to invoke the spectral image of the scene.

but there will be bents to it. i’m not going to say how i’m planning on changing things up, but it’s all to invoke ideas about the nature of class and social violence and to enhance the dialogues on social and domestic violence. i’ve decided to publish a short essay on my ideas about lynchings in this country and how i look at them. view them. understand them. this essay is unfinished, as of yet, but it gives a pretty clear idea of how i’m approaching this project and perhaps some insight into how i plan on accomplishing my goals…

feel free to comment on it either via the comment system in the blog or via private email. hell, you can even call if you want if you have my number. my hope is to divest myself of any trivial approaches in my thinking and the work itself. this is the biggest project i’ve taken on yet and i don’t want to mar it with insincerity. if you find yourself questioning my approaches or my conclusions in this essay please do tell me.

thanks for reading this far. i appreciate it. the next installment of the “sense of being” photo/text series is in the works, too. i’ve just got a lot of things to work on right now and some crazy surprises for seattle in the hat… as i don’t want to do a half-assed job on them everything comes a little slowly… (p.s. for those who have been asking: yes the woman in the sense of being shots is aware that i am using them; that’s why they were produced in the first place. and she is very pleased with the first installment. she’s an artist as well and is working on a companion piece that we created at the same time, but was done with video. pretty exciting. if she makes it postable i’ll drop a link so people can check it out. her’s should be happening at the end of the summer unless we change it around.)

the essay:

In the 1920 and 30s in the united states a project was initiated to deal with the perceived problem of undesirable natives, freed slaves, immigrants from europe and women attempting to rise above their sanctioned stations, making demands for their rights. White americans occupied a position of dominance and desired to maintain that hegemony. To that end began their perpetration of acts of great violence against these undesirable, but somehow necessary, groups.

Accusations leveled against members of these groups included: rape; hubris; theft; violence; anything that could be used as an excuse to punish some members or individuals. It was hoped that this would harness the remainder to a yoke of fear immobilizing them socially, keeping them trapped in a space of irrelevance. These events happened with great frequency and were sanctioned by members of the white elite and lower classes.

One particular form these public punishments would take on is particularly interesting. Sometimes, in rural america, when a lynching was about to be initiated, the entire town would come out. Schools and businesses would close for the day; everyone would come out to participate. Cookouts, musical entertainment, religious services would occur on site. While bodies were tortured and lives taken, local residents congratulated and celebrated themselves on maintaining the social order.

The Question

The question then remains: what are the effects on our present of these acts of the past. as a project were lynchings successful in their aims. And not lastly, but sufficient for the purpose of my work, with the project of lynching mostly starved out by shifting social value systems does the project continue on ’til this day, masked or transformed so as to hide itself from our discernments and continue on invisible to our senses.

“What are the effects on the present these acts of the past”

An obvious answer to the first question is the endurance of skin color-based distrusts. Whites (male) still hold the greater hegemony and many darker-skinned folks and same complexioned women find themselves distrustful of their continued rule. Even as members of these ‘lower classes’ find themselves exercising more power with in their continuously evolving enfranchisement they still voice concern, resentment and anger at the actions of the white elites. Even as they begin to rise and participate in the class actions of these elites and in turn turn their backs on their former communities in their desire to rise out of their own socially constructed straits (‘poverty,’ racism,’ misogyny,’ ‘genocide, and etcetera).

“As a project was the lynching successful in its’ aims ?”

The last observation leads us to direct confrontation with question two: was the vigilante justice model of the lyncher successful? many would point out the success of minorities post the civil rights era as a rebuke against its efficacy. minorities have risen to lead multinational corporations and participate at the highest levels of national policy making. Some are considered amongst the finest american role models for their intellection and academic prowess where before they were considered no capable of such feats as a dog who would learn
to count. Black americans in particular have become amongst the most notable cultural exports for their contributions to the global entertainment enterprise as musicians, wordsmiths, artists, dancers, athletes and fashion icons.

But buying into and participating in the citizenship franchise is not to be equated only with liberation and freedom (a manumission) from social isolation, constraint and domination. (In many ways) it is the method of this liberation that should have us hesitate and reconsider our immediate response, our answer.

In moving out of those undesirable locales many individual turn not just their backs on their former communities leaving them to their own fates, but some actually turn: new members of the franchise participate in the oppressive tactics of their former trespassers. Chastising the poor for their methods of speech and survival; harassing, condoning and encouraging violence against women and sexual minorities, these newly embraced members of america’s transforming cultural elite repeat the the repressive tactics their forbears withered and suffered under. Let’s not make a mistake here by crudely stating that these people have ‘become white,’ an impossible task, but rather that they have come to see themselves as distant masters.

This self-perception of ‘distant master’ is what allowed and allows the dominant culture to not convulse into immobilization with guilt from its crimes. Racism and misogyny, nationalism and collectivism allow us to say that ‘we’ are not ‘they.’ Pride in those ephemerals allows us to know that ‘we’ are superior to ‘them.’ These divisions allow us to stand at great remove from our fellows and justify our actions against them as just and necessary. Not only for maintaining social cohesion and order, but also to keep the underclass from giving into their ruling and basest desires and run amok destroying, raping and pillaging everything in its wake.

French philosopher Michel Foucault in a radio interview with young marxist students who had taken a factory manager hostage in a revolt against working conditions of the french poor reminds them that they must be careful in their revolutionary zeal not to repeat the actions of their oppressors. That is a warning that all too few heed on their ride ‘out’ of poverty and ‘into’ the benefited society. That is a warning of suitable challenge for us all.

‘Does the project of lynching continue to this day yet invisibly?’
The third question is the only one difficult to answer. How does one show that which was once so evident: that the question of its existence has evolved to such an exalted state that it has been rendered invisible? That a societal function once writ so large in contrast against every day life has instead become its language? Can i convince you to consider my argument that the lynching project has ceased as a mechanism of interventionist minority control and has become business, big business, and business as usual.

This is not an ellipse back to my answer to the second question; this work is not for the lazy. My perception is that the manner in which we conduct the business of poverty here in the u.s. is the silent continuation of the lynching project. When acts of great violence are perpetrated against our wicker man victims, donald byrd in texas, matt shepard in colorado, everyone who gets raped or beaten (especially the systematic ones), the continued existence of Indian Reservations, the expanding presence of our prisons, the renewed vigor of our economic disenfranchisement of our poorest citizens, then they are generally perceived to be unjust. But very little is done about it to stem their further occurrence and far too often the opposite transpires: minorities calling for the murder of queers and the subjugation of women and, in a conversation i had with a poor person of pale complexion on a long bus ride:

“i don’t care if they have casinos on the reservation as long as i get my cut…”

appalling actions and statements to be sure, but still not subtle enough to back my argument on point number three. Or are they?

Chouen and Meknes

hyeongssi and i are in a small and wretched affair of a town called chouen or chefchouen.

it’s a few hours from tangiers. feels like being trapped in the food
court of an american mall. all the joints are themed, but hyeong-chan
loves this place so we are here for another day at least…

we’ve got the whole ditch-the-street-hustler thing down, “my wife says no.”

they all seem to think she’s japanese or chinese so there’s a lot of
‘kinichi wa-ing’ and ‘nee hau mas’ following us like the cat calls all you
ladies hear downtown. me, well i am obviously ‘rasta!’ or ‘africaine…’
pretty funny; especially when they accuse me of being paranoid for not
scoring kif or hash or cannabis…

hopefully we’ll leave this wretched tourist trap for meknes tomorrow.
they have famous musical instrument shops there and i want some
specific stuff.

for those who are wondering or were unfortunate enough to see me
before i left and knew how terrified i was of this trip (does she
still like me? will we be able to stand this much time together?) the
answer to that is yes. we are blissing out. a little rough at first,
but now we are like twin pigeons feasting on old pizza on the
waterfront of anytown, usa; the feast never ends!!!

story two:

we are in the imperial and thoroughly chilled out city of Meknes.

this is the place kids.

giant walls of stone made over one thousand years ago by a murderous tyrant named Ismail. streets paved with two thousand year old marble plundered from an ancient roman conquest site. a massive walled courtyard where 15,000 negro slave guards paraded before their king when they weren’t busy slaughtering the unruly tribes of animists who lived in the surrounding mountains. and streets that only a little more than 100 years ago ran with the blood of thieves and political dissidents.

i am home!

yesterday, the erstwhile object of all my recent affections, hyeongssi, and i went wandering through the more impoverished shrines of what barely passes for living in this country. children playing soccer to the sound of wandering mules in streets that are still broken from an earthquake of over 90 years ago. the stench of piss and shit gags
me, but hyeong-chan seems unaffected. she tells me this reminds her of home before her parents got money and the municipality of seoul, korea began to consider the fortune of finding favor in the eyes of its poorer citizens.

people eye us strangely not just because we are obviously moneyed, in
a sense, but because they never see koreans and what the hell am i
with these dreadlocks and that strange woman on my arm?

as i begin to fear the vultures are circling a man runs up from a
broken and smoldering vehicle. he is smiling and covered in grease and
obviously a mechanic. ‘how can i help? where do you go? this is a bad
place for you.’

i explain that i am looking for the gate, bab jdir, and the souk of
the berber instrument makers. he sends us on a better path, out of the
old ghetto and down to a main street. the stench and the poverty make
me reflect on the worse parts of philadelphia and mississippi and
anyone who doesn’t agree should try exploring those cities more.

after more wandering through the dead tyrant’s ancient courts and
boulevards we found our destination: the bab jdir, north western gate
to the medina. and it is amazing. everywhere old men in traditional
attire or three piecers selling instruments, spitting on the ground at
hagglers, grabbing a young hustler by the scruffiest of collars and
hurling him around the corner (‘yalla!’); it is my place and i have
come a long way to get here.

an old guy in a big chunk of wool obviously high out of his mind and
barely able to whisper, but quite capable of growling, shuffling and
depositing desirable objects and i really get into it. for 150 i want
a horn, some extra mouthpieces AND some cymbals, dammit. no way, 200
you stinking tourist; here, smoke some of this and let’s argue some
more. forget it pops, if i were to smoke that crazy mountain shit it
wouldn’t be while i’m arguing about cash and prizes. fine, but still
200 you stupid interloper.

all this occurs in the most ridiculous pigeon stew of french, spanish,
english, arabic (‘bismillah!’) and berber. eventually things get loud
and someone old and grouchy is stuffing my new horn with extra
mouthpieces while a younger guy intervenes and argues with me in pure
french. after much more haggling, a small child getting slapped for reasons i was never able to pry from these grumpy old farts, hyeongssi telling me that i am ‘beautiful language’ every ten minutes or so and snapping candid shots while being asked not to and a lot of kif
smoke clogging my contacts, i have the horn. i have the mouthpieces. i have my amazing obsidian cymbals. all wrapped in newsprint like the fish i used to watch my dad buy from the door to door muslim fish mongers when we lived in akron. muslims, muslims, muslims. i love muslims.

did i ever tell you the one about the muslim, the christian and the
jew who were trying to get into heaven? another time. just stop me on
the street or buy me a cold one and i will happily give you an
american’s rendition of real moroccan storytelling.

i have been taking a lot of photos. i just can’t post from here. or
maybe i can. it’s just too much work to find out. whatever. i will be
seeding them to some online site when i get back or else illustrating
my dormant blog with these same tales that i have been sending you. i
promise that some of these shots will be worth the wait: i have so
many nudes of young dancing boys and voluptuously large old ladies
feeding me couscous by the pea in my ramshackle bed. hey. did anybody
out there know that they finally outlawed pedophilia in this country?
can you imagine how awful the state of american and european letters
(cough.cough.) would be today if they’d done that back in the 20s and
30s? no good burroughs, or bowles or any of the rest of those boy
lovers who made our literature possible.

god bless the King! Mohammed the 5th! A’Salaam!

from Meknes, Imperial City Extraordinaire,
pol rosenthal
‘a jew in the high country…’
p.s. i do not do drugs. really. ask around. i also have not had a
drink in days. i am going crazy without my rum.

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