Uncovered Artistry & (maybe) C.I.A. coverups?

Some photos from the Uncovered Artistry show back in April. Remember, they’re the grassroots organization seeking to help survivors of rape/abuse, intimate partner violence, and the like to express themselves through art, some of which they offer space to sell through their site.

I tagged this in my “acrylic category’, but it’s actually more mixed media. (There was supposed to be an indigo scarab in that sun in the center, but it fell off in the shipping.) While the comic in the middle (a circa 2005 Too Negative I created after hallucinating the sequence depicted) gives a panel-by-panel narrative, the more painterly elements give the same on a psychic level.

Here in context with some other works from the show. Unfortunately I can’t make out the names on the other cards, but there’s a nice set of grisaille ink washes, and a four page comic about Congolese freedom fighter/Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba.

There’s an old cliche that “music soothes the savage beast”. I could add that art used to give a voice to those their abusers would rather silence, or educate people a global hemisphere away about people like Lumumba, gives some placation to a schizoaffective prone to fits of near-blackout rage. During our recent trip where Seth, Eric and Andy performed in Montreal, someone told me over an indulgent fruit crepe breakfast about a theory they’d read that the push in the American art world towards increasingly sterile and abstract conceptual art was actually orchestrated by the C.I.A.  The idea of “art for art’s sake”, the dismissal of any work with a message as agitprop, was used to neuter and spay an avant-garde teeming with leftist and otherwise dissident thought and trick the population into thinking safe commodities somehow made them sophisticates. Is all this true? I really have no way of saying, though it sure would explain a hell of a lot. And it’s a story with a certain appeal when your eye falls on a piece of bland corporate public art or soulless and formulaic hack work that’s inexplicably popular.

And sitting in La Plateau, in a city about to explode, surrounded by citizens sporting carre rouges and ka-jahl, as my husband and I both did, talk of a shadowy cruelty-machine is the only thing that makes perfect sense. Maybe that’s all narratives are, a way to make sense of the senseless.

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