The Rabbit hole…

Ai Weiwei will inform my research both conceptually and practically. His tenacious viewpoint is demonstrated in various mediums including photography, film, social media, sculpture, architecture, design, installations, performance; the list goes on… He questions authority and pushes boundaries, all qualities I think are imperative to activism within the media.

How can you say one style is better than another? You ought to be able to be an Abstract Expressionist next week, or a Pop artist, or a realist, without feeling you’ve given up something.. I think that would be so great, to be able to change styles. And I think that’s what’s is going to happen, that’s going to be the whole new scene.” Andy Warhol
(The Art Story, n.d.)

Andy Warhol’s chaotic ‘pop art’ challenged the notion of ‘high art’, “manipulating popular taste…which placed everyday objects on a pedestal in their stark and unadorned simplicity” (The Art Story, n.d.) Similarly to Ai Weiwei, Warhol uses many mediums to showcase his work including film, print, writing and painting. his experimental film work presented in real time, (The Art Story, n.d.) created this frustrated audience. His exploration of time in the film is another aspect I want to delve into.

“I came to the world of cinema possessed of a profound feeling of solitude and exile.In the movie theatre, I found a refuge where I could break that solitude.” M. Malas

Mohammad Malas His ability to gain approval for his honest political films from the Syrian government, and understand the censorship surrounding the Syrian uprising, is a skill I would want to understand within my work. “We became accustomed to proposing screenplays that would make the historical and political depth of the story disappear, in order to get permits for filming.“A director must speak honestly but in a language that is indirect, so they can craft the message they want to send. ” (About productions 2013 pp. 12).

Mahnaz Mohammadi “The film-maker and actor have been found guilty of assembly and collusion against national security, and propaganda against the state – charges that have been brought on a number of opposition figures and activists in recent years.” (Dehghan S, 2014) Mahaz Mohammadi is a women’s rights activist, and uses cinema to show the lives of the minority and misunderstood.

Pussy Riot, Is a Russian feminist protest group. There focus is on politics, feminism, there rebellious style of punk is what really grabbed my attention. They force people to think, and the performances the groups make puts them in danger from the government.

“It’s all about art,” Verzilov said. “It’s about art being the correct, brightest and most effective method of broaching political questions and bringing issues to the wider public.”  (Caroll 2012). Their use of performance shared through social media and youtube gained them huge media attention alongside artists such as Red Hot Chilli Peppers. They have utilised the media really well and this practice is imperative in my field

  1. Ai Weiwei: Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn (1995)

It resonates with my practice and soon to project because I like learning about challenging different cultural norms. You are able to deconstruct society norms and turn a piece of art or performance into something that particular culture may not be ready to understand yet. This growth is what Ai Weiwei forces upon its viewers. “He dropped and smashed a 2000-year old ceremonial urn. Not only did the artefact have considerable value (the artist paid the equivalent of several thousand US dollars for it), but symbolic and cultural worth…The provocative act of cultural destruction in reference to the erasure of cultural memory in Communist China, an anti-elite society that carefully monitored access to information, especially about its dynastic history.” (The Art Story n.d.) This rebellious anti-government and historically cultural gesture may insult those, however social media forces countries of communist tendencies to almost have to accept different opinions.

  1. Andy Warhol: Marilyn diptych 1962

“Warhol took Marilyn Monroe as his subject in different mediums… By repeating Monroe’s image (and that of other celebrities) over and over again, Warhol acknowledged his own fascination with a society in which personas could be manufactured, commodified, and consumed like products.” (Moma, n.d). Mass production was on the forefront in the 60’sWarholWorhol was able to creatively produce artwork that reflected celebrity society at the time. This is still relevant today and is relevant to my project as I want to reflect society constructs and

  1. Pussy Riot: “Make America Great Again”. Music Video

Pussy Riot’s social and political activism is what draws me to their performances the most. Their concepts: “Tensions of a generation fed up with the inequality, decadence, and instability” (Zychowicz, 2012) are still extremely relevant and Trump is portrayed this way within the media. ‘Make America Great Again’ although it is a satirical music video there are serious underlying global issues.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-bKFo30o2o

Ai Weiwei: Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn (1995)

Ai Weiwei stood outside his mother’s house in China in 1995 with a 2000-year-old symbolic and cultural urn and dropped it. The moment is captured with triptych photography. (before during and after.) The artist’s facial expression shows no interest in the act he is performing, which is juxtaposed with the ceremonial importance and worth of the urn. The historical value of the piece

Weiwei’s provocative style of art originated through his stance on the Chinese government and his activism surrounding censorship and control. This forms the core of his work and the way he depicts these symbols of cultural and historical worth within his art. “It was a provocative act of cultural destruction in reference to the erasure of cultural memory in Communist China, an anti-elite society that carefully monitored access to information, especially about its dynastic history.” (The Art Story n.d.)

Weiwei was a part of the Chinese art group in 1979, called XingXing (Chiu 2016). ‘One of the earliest avant-garde art collectives to be formed after the death of Mao’. (Strafella and Burg 2015). They were a Chinese movement of avant-garde artists in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. (Art Sy, n.d.) The work has strong ties to iconoclasm.The artists choice of triptych photography enforces a narrative behind the image. There are layers of historical, cultural and political conflict that the artist enforces through his abrupt actions of dropping the ceremonial urn. 

ai-weiwei-dropping-a-han-dynasty-urn-19951.jpg
Ai Weiwei, Dropping a Han-Dynasty Urn, 1995, triptych, C-Prints each 150-166 cm Ai Weiwei

Andy Warhol: Marilyn diptych 1962

Andy Warhol’s work Marilyn ‘references a form of Christian painting’ (Ryan n.d.) Diptych with the Virgin and Child Enthroned and the Crucifixion. But the artist uses Marilyn (a contemporary celebrity) who passed away the same year. The two panels of large silkscreen are of 50 prints of Marilyn. ‘The monumental scale of Marilyn Diptych (more than six feet by nine feet) demands our attention and announces the importance of the subject matter.’ (Ryan n.d.) The juxtaposition of colours and black and white that fades out through the columns of the images has direct contemporary social references.

Warhol’s pop art stemmed from abstract expressionists and there are strong ties to surrealism within the movement of abstract expression in the 1940’s and 50’s in New York. Pop art relies’s on mass media to lay the foundations of their work. Artists “embraced the post-WWII manufacturing and media boom”. (Pop Art, the Art story n.d.)

Conceptually, Warhol has created this complex juxtaposition between the old and new and high and low art. Warhol’s appropriation of Marilyn directly links to mass production and replication of products during the uprising of mass production. The repetition of the image engages the viewer in an understanding of the medium, silk screening and how Warhol’s practical skills of reproduction are produced. The transition from colour to black and white then to an over exposed lightly printed image.

329f84364bd08b80515b71fa830da2d2b6802c0c.jpg
Andy Warhol, Marilyn Diptych, 1962, acrylic on canvas, 2054X1448 mm (Tate) The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. 2015

Pussy Riot: “Make America Great Again”. 2016

The music video highlights the policies and direction that Donald Trump wants to implement for America. The members of Pussy Riot all play particular characters that are pro trump. “The video features a combination of campaign footage and imagined scenes to portray a vision of what America might look like with the Republican as a leader.” (Bryant 2016). The video targets issues surrounding, sexualisation of women, sexual and violent harassment, racism and corruption of the government and police force. Pussy Riot has used the music genre pop to directly link to mass media and to almost entertain a variety of audiences.

“Pussy Riot emerged from a guerilla art collective called Voina, or War, that gained notoriety for subversive public installations and raucous performances with political messages.”(Balmforth 2012) . “Their musical influences, including bands such as Bikini Kill and Sham 69.” (Suchland J 2012). The video clip consistently demands the audience’s attention with vox pops and clips of Trump’s speeches during the campaign period. The music itself is relevant and aligns itself with pop music in the charts. The lyrics are blunt and shocking.

  1. Research the history of the medium and practices with which your are working or the one identified in the research of your contemporaries. Find three different historical vectors. If you are working in virtual reality that might be; narrative cinema, simulation, immersion. If you are working in marketing it might be Propaganda, Brands, Targeted Advertising.

Activism/critical media, digital media, cinematic realism/propaganda

  1. Map out a historical Timeline for each of these vectors identifying key points of development, instances of an expression, protagonists etc.

“In 425 BC, not long after the start of the Peloponnesian War, Aristophanes’s “Acharnians” premiered at the Athenian Lenaia, a January festival whose highlight was a competition among playwrights. The play follows the travails of the citizen Dicaeopolis (a Greek compound meaning “the just city”), who, having grown weary of the strictures imposed by the war, draws up a separate personal treaty with the Spartans and flourishes among many wines- and sex-fueled hijinks.“Acharnians” can be identified as the earliest extant piece of activist theatre: a play with an overt social and especially political message, striving to persuade as well as to entertain.”   “It was during the second World War that the term became taboo because it was connected with Germany and all those bad things. But in this period, the term propaganda just meant information or something like that”. (Bernays E, 1928)

“The beginning of the 1930s was the defining artistic, political and cultural period for the emerging generation of Hollywood leftists who would incorporate the ideal of social, cultural and political criticism in their film and literary output during the “Golden Age” of Hollywood (the 1930s to 1950s, to take a broad span)  (Mithani S, 2008).

  1. Mark key protagonists and developments on this timeline noting which of these might provide vectors for deeper research and analysis – which moments speak to the contemporary moment and how. Think back to the example of ‘fake news’; a great example of a timeline of antecedents.
  • Bernays

“Masao Adachi (b. 1939) is a truly revolutionary artist, a filmmaker whose unshakable political beliefs have shaped his vision of cinema as an intense engagement with its audience and with its time.” (Harvard Film Archive n.d.)

Hollywood/propaganda

In these key protagonists find theoretical perspectives, concerns, or techniques that might inform the other vectors of your research.

Public relations, Propaganda, directing.

SOVIET REALISM

Socialist Realism was the official artistic movement of the U.S.S.R. It was attached not only to the revolution but to the forward momentum of the communist ideology and Soviet apparatus. As an artistic movement, it is still a controversial topic. It is also a difficult one because so much is encompassed in the concept. At its worst, Socialist Realism produced, even demanded, empty propaganda. At its best, it produced artworks pulsing with life, with immediacy and potency. Whatever its successes, it is impossible to view even the most creative and moving pieces from this period without handling in some way the subject of repression.

‘art for a purpose.’ (Rogers, E 2012)

Association of Artists of Revolutionary Russia (AKhRR)

“A more concrete element of Socialist Realism was the heavy emphasis placed on the theme. The importance of message was understood: it should depict a Communist future and a glorious present. To this end, Russian heroes, contemporary and historical, were commonly depicted. Following the outbreak of World War II, the subjects of the bravery and optimism were frequent, at home and on the battlefield. A work by Laktionov, Letter from the Front, painted in 1947, captures this message. It depicts a family gathered together to happily enjoy news of the war. It also blazes with that “magical” Realism mentioned above.” (Rogers, E 2012)

Theory and methodologies:

“establishing the storyline as the first order of business;
• knowing something about potential funders before soliciting support for your project;
• working with what you have, rather than what you want;
• engaging with cinematic aesthetics, no matter the filmmaking context, as a means of signifying something personally and/or politically meaningful; • avoiding working in isolation; and
being self-determining.”

  1. Identify 5 academic papers related to your field using the Libraries search function or using google school scholar. Work out which three are most immediately relevant and read scan them for Key Ideas (read them properly during the next week)
  • Chiu, M 2016, ‘On Ai Weiwei’, Social Research, 83, 1, pp. 175-177, Political Science Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 9 March 2017, not long enough
  • Strafella, G, & Berg, D 2015, ‘“Twitter Bodhisattva”: Ai Weiwei’s Media Politics’, Asian Studies Review, 39, 1, pp. 138-157, Humanities International Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 9 March 2017.
  • LETTINGA, D, & KAULINGFREKS, F 2015, ‘Clashing Activisms: International Human Rights Organisations and Unruly Politics’, Journal Of Human Rights Practice, 7, 3, pp. 343-365, Political Science Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 12 March 2017.
  • Roussel, V 2010, ‘Making “A Political Movie That Does Not Take a Political Stand:” Specialization and Depoliticization in American Cinema’, International Journal Of Politics, Culture & Society, 23, 2/3, pp. 137-155, SocINDEX with Full Text, EBSCOhost, viewed 12 March 2017.
  • Mehta, R 2012, ‘Flash activism: How a Bollywood film catalysed civic justice toward a murder trial’, Transformative Works & Cultures, 10, p. 9, Humanities International Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 12 March 2017.
  • Mithani, S 2008, ‘The Hollywood Left: Cinematic Art and Activism in the 1930s’, Dissertation Abstracts International, Section A: The Humanities And Social Sciences, 69, 1, p. 8, MLA International Bibliography, EBSCOhost, viewed 14 March 2017.
  1. Go to the references section of each of these three papers. Identify where references are duplicated across papers – Are particular authors or volumes or journals used in multiple texts.

Strafella, G, & Berg, D 2015, ‘“Twitter Bodhisattva”: Ai Weiwei’s Media Politics’, Asian Studies Review, 39, 1, pp. 138-157, Humanities International Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 9 March 2017.

  • LETTINGA, D, & KAULINGFREKS, F 2015, ‘Clashing Activisms: International Human Rights Organisations and Unruly Politics’, Journal Of Human Rights Practice, 7, 3, pp. 343-365, Political Science Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 12 March 2017.
  • Roussel, V 2010, ‘Making “A Political Movie That Does Not Take a Political Stand:” Specialization and Depoliticization in American Cinema’, International Journal Of Politics, Culture & Society, 23, 2/3, pp. 137-155, SocINDEX with Full Text, EBSCOhost, viewed 12 March 2017.
  • Mithani, S 2008, ‘The Hollywood Left: Cinematic Art and Activism in the 1930s’, Dissertation Abstracts International, Section A: The Humanities And Social Sciences, 69, 1, p. 8, MLA International Bibliography, EBSCOhost, viewed 14 March 2017.
  1. Read through your list looking for a) potential material experiments b) new context (artists/histories) c) the context of the ideas – how are they situated within a field of thought? Where do the ideas come from? What is the historical context of the ideas or approach d) useful/interesting ideas/concepts?


Experiment ideas:
How to create a non-bias stance on a
Create a vox pop of interviews proposing a question of activism and how people react to that question.
Look at how Hollywood has developed through the use of activism cinema, how have certain minorities been portrayed in the film.
Ai Weiwei’s political context and his story and how he was prosecuted by the government, similarly with Pussy Riot a few of the members were imprisoned, due to a performance they conducted. It’s this all-consuming life determination.

  1. Given the results of the exercises above propose three experiments or explorations that you will enact a program of creative material research over the next week.

1. pick a question associated with the train of thought/field, interview a group of people, answering that question.
2. look at existing advocacy campaigns. Pick 1 and connect with the work. respond to it. reconstruct the work through another form.
3. create a cinematic experience that forces people to question what you are saying. it could be about anything. from politics to the way people with a disability of something.

  1. Write up these experiments. What question do they ask? Are the experiments open (indeterminate/experimental) and generative?

I will Pick a question associated with something I am passionate about. I will construct a series of interviews (vox pops) that highlight the general understanding of the topic. I will then explain the counter argument whatever it will be, even if I disagree with it so I can gain a stronger understanding of all opinions of the topic. I will then research that counter argument and educate myself and then incorporate that part into my short film.

REREFENCES:

About Productions 2013, ‘Ladder to Damascus’, Press-kit Interview with Mohammad Malas. viewed: 7Th March 2017 http://www.abboutproductions.com/files/982551356Ladder-to-damascus-presskit.pdf

Balmforth T, 2012, “What is Pussy Riot?” PRI Viewed: Wednesday 8th March https://www.pri.org/stories/2012-08-11/what-pussy-riot

Bernays E, 1928, History is a Weapon viewed: 6th March 2017http://www.historyisaweapon.org/defcon1/bernprop.html

Bryant M, 2016 Russia’s ‘Pussy Riot issues a very stark warning about Trump’s presidency in shocking ‘Make America Great Again’ video predicting what the future might look like with Donald as leader.’viewed:  10th March 2017 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3935908/Russia-s-Pussy-Riot-issues-stark-warning-Trump-s-presidency-shocking-Make-America-Great-video-predicting-future-look-like-Donald-leader.html

Caroll G, 1012, “PUSSY RIOT: WHO THEY ARE – AND WHAT THEY STAND FOR” Gigwise, Blog Post viewed: 8th March 2017, http://www.gigwise.com/blogs/75017/pussy-riot-who-they-are—and-what-they-stand-for

Chiu, M 2016, ‘On Ai Weiwei’, Social Research, 83, 1, pp. 175-177, Political Science Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 9 March 2017, not long enough

D. Russo J n.d. “The Meaning Behind the Mask: Social Activism Through Theatre” viewed: 7th March 2017 http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2015/4/8/arts-cover-activist-theatre/

Dehghan S, 2014 ‘Iranian filmmaker jailed for five years for ‘collaborating with the BBC’, Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/18/iranian-film-maker-mahnaz-mohammadi-jailed-colaborator-bbc

Harvard Film Archive n.d.  “Film = Activism. The Revolutionary Underground Cinema of Masao Adachi” viewed: 8th March 2017 http://hcl.harvard.edu/hfa/films/2013janmar/adachi.html

Moma, n.d “Gold Marilyn Monroe” viewed: Thursday 9th March https://www.moma.org/learn/moma_learning/andy-warhol-gold-marilyn-monroe-1962

Mithani, S 2008, ‘The Hollywood Left: Cinematic Art and Activism in the 1930s’, Dissertation Abstracts International, Section A: The Humanities And Social Sciences, 69, 1, p. 8, MLA International Bibliography, EBSCOhost, viewed 14 March 2017.

No author, n.d. ‘THE STARS ART GROUP (XING XING)’, Art Sy viewed: 10th March 2017, https://www.artsy.net/gene/the-stars-art-group-xing-xing

Pop Art n.d. The Art Story viewed: Tuesday 7Th March http://www.theartstory.org/movement-pop-art.htm

Ryan, T n,d. Warhol, ‘Marilyn Diptych’ Khan Acadamy viewed: Monday 13th March https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/ap-art-history/later-europe-and-americas/modernity-ap/a/warhol-marilyn-diptych

Rogers, E 2012 ‘Socialist Realism’ Art in Russia viewed: 6th March 2017 http://artinrussia.org/socialist-realism/

Strafella, G, & Berg, D 2015, ‘“Twitter Bodhisattva”: Ai Weiwei’s Media Politics’, Asian Studies Review, 39, 1, pp. 138-157, Humanities International Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 9 March 2017.

Suchland J, 2012 ‘Contextualizing Pussy Riot in Russia and Beyond’ August 28, 2012, viewed: 8th March 2017 http://www.e-ir.info/2012/08/28/contextualizing-pussy-riot-in-russia-and-beyond/

Weiwei A, n.d. in ‘The Art Story’. viewed: Thursday 9th March http://www.theartstory.org/artist-ai-weiwei-artworks.htm

Warhol A, n.d. The Art Story, viewed: Tuesday 7th March, http://www.theartstory.org/artist-warhol-andy.htm.

Zychowicz J, 2012, “The Global Controversy over Pussy Riot: An Anti-Putin Women’s Protest Group in Moscow” International institution Journal University of Michigan. Vol.2 no1.  https://quod.lib.umich.edu/i/iij/11645653.0002.104/–global-controversy-over-pussy-riot-an-anti-putin-womens?rgn=main;view=fulltext

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s