Artists and Activism

There’s been quite a lull in artists pushing back against agendas that harm society. In music, visual arts and movies we’ve been inundated with pretty things, superficial interactions and depravity. Reality TV with nincompoops and Hiltonesque chihuahua’s yapping in doggy purses about high heels and getting drunk in limos. Is this what art has stooped to? I realize that most artists aren’t making money so they sell out to corporations who pay them to create pseudo art for them, but we have a problem in our society and I think it’s high time for artists to start protesting through their medium. Throughout history it’s been the artists who have stepped up and brought attention to crises. There are a few still willing to stick their necks out who could care less about offending the corporations they hope to court, but they are few and far between and even fewer who are actually paying attention to what is going on. Too many are paying attention to themselves. An artist’s work is supposed to be a window to view the world through.

This past week has been pretty intense. Finally the media is paying attention to the famine in Somalia. Standard & Poors downgraded the United States’ credit rating. Rioting in England. A re-call election in Wisconsin. Syria setting it’s military against it’s own citizens. And where are the artists? Most of them are preparing for Burning Man or stuck so far up their own asses or too afraid to comment on current events for fear people will stop buying their work, or they couldn’t care less or they are too damn scared about what their peers will say. What peers? We set our own stages. Our homeless population is rising. People are going to be hurting even more when Republicans try to cut off unemployment benefits and they’ve taken a vacation until September instead of working their asses off to try and put this country back to work. Say what you will about Will & Kate, but they are the only “political” figures in recent history to high tail it down to Los Angeles’ skid row to pay a visit to impoverished children and families in our country. If Miss Hilton and her stupid chihuahua’s or the Kardashian’s  had any sense of decency they would do weekly penance helping people who have lost everything due to our political strifes. Yet, everyone blames Obama. Sure, leaders are partly to blame, they always are, but for the love of the fairy tale being in the sky… artists’s get off your asses! If you don’t…. you’re just a shallow egotistical fame whore who doesn’t know when their spotlight has dimmed. Art should offend, get in your face, and cause all those who would take what is yours to shun you. I shoot nudes… you should see my hate mail. big deal. Where are the Joni Mitchel’s? More Matt Damon, less Paris Hilton… please.

And yes, I shoot nudes. What does that say for women, their ferocity and their independence? Their strength and our society? I have my own societal reasons for what I photograph. Job after job of being sexually harassed, hired sometimes not because of my abilities but because of how I looked, bet on by co-workers on who could score with me first. Touched the wrong way and looked down upon if I pulled away. You won’t find sex in my work, unless that’s all you can see. When minorities, women, children and different political factions are harassed, intimidated and shunned or ignored you will start seeing uprisings. London riots, Wisconsin re-calls, 1969, Rodney King, Arab Springs, etc and so forth.

Be responsible. Vote. Care. Help. Show. Teach. Console. Step into another’s shoes. And yeah, stick out your neck once in awhile and write stupid blog posts like this one. Come out from your shells.

This post was inspired by Alec Empire who wrote this today: http://www.eyho-blog.com/2011/08/09/london-riots-august-by-alec-empire/ Please read what he has to say.

And then, enjoy a new photograph I made with Zinn Star.

Shedding Apathy - model: Zinn Star - © 2011 Zoe Wiseman
Shedding Apathy - model: Zinn Star - © 2011 Zoe Wiseman

85

Am I the only photographer who still has any Polaroid Type 85 left? I think I might be. It makes me sad.

Today I had a great shoot with Zinn Star. We worked mostly with my Rollei but broke off for a few minutes to waste away a package of Polaroid Type 85 that I had never put in the fridge for storage. I think the last pack I was able to purchase was in 2006. I’ve been storing refrigerators full of it but wanted to see what a package would do that hadn’t been stored appropriately. I kind of like it a lot.

These are, of course, solarized. A technique of peeling the polaroid apart before it’s fully exposed (about 10 seconds) and then holding the negative up to the sun so it tweaks the chemicals to make the shadows do really amazing things. They become lighter in spots on the negative, where as the shadows on the positive stay completely black. But what happened with the expired film was the brownish erosion at the top and bottom. To me it looks a bit like out of focus vines or leaves trying to take over a scene as if an abandoned building would attract the same.

Sadly, positive/negatives films are being overrun by the environment. The chemicals are getting old and rotting the films like they would old wooden floorboards of a house. I’m glad I have a lot of it left still… this makes me want to preserve it even more. I know those photographers who still have their positive/negative polaroid films feel the same. This is magical to us. We aren’t really into the other Polaroid Types…. they don’t have actual negatives. So I raise a toast to all the photographers out there moaning through each pack of film knowing that you can’t hoard it, you have to shoot it, and the day it’s completely gone will certainly be upon all of us.

model: Zinn Star
model: Zinn Star

 

model: Zinn Star
model: Zinn Star