China and it’s Hemisphere of Influence.

In the age of global superpowers or even hemispheric powers, China is not on the same level as the United States (US) or even Russia. The United States has enjoyed unparalleled power and influence in the western hemisphere since the Monroe Doctrine in 1823.

Since American expansion and the spread of liberalism following the end of World War two and the Cold War, the United States has gone unmatched in terms of influence, not only in their own hemisphere but around the world.

China has serious military and monetary power. It had begun to spread it’s influence, most notably in Africa while struggling to command similar influence in it’s own hemisphere. The subject of hemispheric influence or lack thereof has come to light in recent months. Following the election of Donald Trump to the office of President of the United States, the US has taken a more aggressive foreign policy toward Pyongyang. Trump had asserted that North Korea is “behaving very bad” and “China has done very little to help” in a tweet sent out in March.

As tensions have risen between the United States and North Korea, China is being dragged into the role of mediator as the Unites States threatens unilateral action against Pyongyang. During a meeting between both Presidents of China and the United States, President Xi Jinping informed President Trump that China does not have as much influence over North Korea as is assumed.

What does this mean? well, if China lacks influence over Pyongyang that means the Americans will step in with military action. With possible support from China, Russia, Japan and South Korea. The consequences of such action would be an unimaginable death toll. For China to show it is a superpower and has hemispheric influence, they would need to act. Be it diplomatically or militarily. If they wish to reduce the influence of the US in the region.

Now is the time for China to step up and on the other hand, now is the time for the Us to grow its influence to greater levels.

I’ll finish with this: How would China feel about a divided North Korea or a Korea occupied by American forces? that would US forces on the door to China and on the border of Russia.

History.state.gov. (2017). Milestones: 1801–1829 – Office of the Historian. [online] Available at: https://history.state.gov/milestones/1801-1829/monroe [Accessed 29 Apr. 2017].

Twitter. (2017). Donald J. Trump on Twitter. [online] Available at: https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/842724011234791424?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&ref_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.latimes.com%2Fpolitics%2Fla-pol-updates-everything-president-1489761191-htmlstory.html [Accessed 29 Apr. 2017].

Sowed Seeds

Trump triumphs, brexit rolls on and all things in the middle are questioned. With Trump’s win in the USA, on the back of a campaign inspired by hate and division but powered bytrump the simple need of jobs, of an income, trumped the ideals of the left. The working class were left behind, that’s a fact, not only in the USA but across the globe. As society progressed on through the 80’s and the middle classes increased, people and politicians no longer had to worry about poverty or low income, they could then turn their focus on how they lived. Human rights, work life balance, yoga, new cars and other technologies.

As we entered the era of making ‘money from money’ things became a lot riskier. As the globe became interconnected through the financial markets (globalisation) what happened on one side of the word now affected the other side of the world.

The crash of 2008 shrunk the middle class, people were now less well off, in debt, behind on mortgage payments and with no disposable income for luxury good or vacations to distract them from the world’s woes, people were now forced to become politically aware and politically engaged.

Over the past 8 years of recession, with slow change and a loss of confidence in the financial policies of the neoliberals, a loss of confidence in the well established politicians and now the media, people have begun to revolt. As mentioned above, Donald Trump won the USA Presidential election and Britain have voted to separate from the European Union. Left wing and right wing parties have gained significant ground. Duterte in the Philippines, openly confessed to killing people has been pushing a new war on drugs with thousands dead in three months, killed by the police, killed by other gangs and vigilantes. Marion-Le Pen, a far right politician in France, presidential hopeful for 2017. Syriza in Greece, Podemos in Spain which has
transformed the Spanish political scene. fractured-eu

Whats next for 2017? will Europe begin to separate?
will France elect a far right President?
how about war in the South China Sea or in Eastern Europe with the build up of NATO forces in Poland. All I know is that some bad seeds have been sowed and what grows wont be good for anyone.

Aleppo

Please click on the link below and fill out the details.

What we have allowed to happen to Aleppo is a disgrace and we all should be ashamed. We have facilitated the destruction of a an enitre country, the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, including women and children. We have allowed war crimes to go on unchallenged and yet, it continues. It needs to end now.

LINK ->  Email to TD’s

 

The Genius of Photography.

Hi everyone.

Back a long time ago I listed a number of documentaries I recommended you to go and watch. This is one of them The Genius of Photography a multi part documentary. So I believe there are 5 episodes, episode 4 seems to be in 2 parts, each episode is around 56 minutes long and well worth a watch. ENJOY!!

Fixing the Shadows 1/5

Document for Artists 2/5

Right Time, Right Place. 3/5

Snap Judgments 4/5

Paper Movies 4/5

We Are Family 5/5

 

 

My top must watch Documentaries.

Below is a list of Documentaries that I’ve seen and recommend. They are informative and thought provoking.

1. Bitter Lake by Adam Curtis

2. No end in sight. (Critical look at the American lead invasion of Iraq).

3. The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara.

4. Chasing Ice. (A multi-year chronicle of the planet’s rapidly melting glaciers).

5. The Genius of Photography. (mutli-TV series BBC)

6. Inside Job. (An examination of the 2008 financial crises).

7. Finding Vivian Maier (Street Photographer who took over 100,000 pictures)

8. Manufacturing Consent. (Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky)

9. the shock Doctrine. (Naomi Klein)

10. Inequality for all. (Robert Reich)

11. Waiting for Superman. (An examination of the school system in the USA and its decline).

News Headlines.

Ireland

  • Two Brothers aged 9 have been killed after stabbing incident in Charleville, Co.Cork. A third body was also found, 16kms south. 
  • Prison Officers have announced work stoppages for two prisons later this month.
  • Labour TD has stated that campaigner Philomena Lee deserves and apology from the state. 
  • Talks between Greyhound Recycling Company and SIPTU have adjourned at the Labour Relations Commission.
  • Bishop objects to LGBT centre grant on moral grounds. 

International Headlines

  • NATO leaders agree Russia should face more sanctions for its actions in eastern Ukraine. 
  • Women found beheaded in London back garden. 
  • UK to arm Kurds fighting in Northern Iraq
  • The death toll from the ebola virus has risen to more than 1,900 – WHO.
  • Suicide kills 1 in every 40 seconds – WHO. 
  • Oklahoma, medical failures to blame for botched execution. 
  • Columbia University Senior to Carry Dorm Mattress Around Campus in Call for Rapist’s Expulsion.
  • Fast Food workers in the United States to hold national strike for $15 wage. 
  • Comedian Joan Rivers dies aged 81. 
  • More than 35 people have been killed in heavy monsoon rain in Pakistan. 
  • Protesters camp outside the parliament in Pakistan.  
  • South Korean soldiers face murder charge after bullying claim. 
  • Lesotho Prime Minister forced into hiding after claims of an attempted military coup on Saturday.
  • Rare outbreak of Dengue fever in Tokyo.  
  • 7.0 magnitude earthquake strikes Peru.
  • Caribbean storm Cristobal strengthens.
  • UN calls for the release of Fijian peacekeepers held by Syrian Rebels.
  • Asteroid 2014 RC to pass earth by 25,000 miles this Sunday.  

 

Soucres: Irish Times, The Journal, CNN, BBC, The Guardian and Time. 

 

Art, an object and a powerful tool in everyday life.

College Essay – Due Tomorrow. I thought I’d give all you bloggers a view first.

 

Art, an object and a powerful tool in everyday life.

  1. Introduction
  2. Questions

2.1    How does a Western artist working in a vulnerable region keep integrity when representing other people in their work?

2.2    Can/should artists produce politically neutral work?

2.3    What effect does being in a place over time have on the work an artist produces there?

  1. Conclusion

Art, an object and a powerful tool in everyday life.

richard mosse congo - for essay

Figure 1‘Taking Tiger Mountain, North Kivu, Eastern Congo, 2011­’

Introduction

This essay was influenced by a lecture that Richard Mosse had given in The National college of Art and Design (NCAD). The lecture was about his work that was in the Venice Biennale: The Enclave. He has also published a book called Infra, A collection of photographs taken in 2010/11 by artist, Richard Mosse. He captured the images using Kodak aerochrome, a discontinued recognisance infrared film. The images published in the book “Infra” where taken in The Congo (Democratic Republic of Congo). The Kodak aerochrome registerschlorophyll in live vegetation resulting in a very surreal landscape that appears in lush pinks and reds. Currently in Congo, war between rebel factions and the Congolese national army is ongoing. Sexual violence and child recruitment being two the big issues. In this essay, I will be asking the following questions:

How does a Western artist working in a vulnerable region keep integrity when representing other people in his or her work?

Can/should artists produce politically neutral work?

What effect does being in a place over time have on the work an artist produces there?

In this part of the essay I will pose the questions to myself and try and answer the questions or at least offer opinion and examples on them.

How does a Western artist working in a vulnerable region keep integrity when representing other people in their work?

Infra and The Enclave try to represent a place of huge divide, murder, mass rape and the recruitment of child soldiers with a unique type of film called ‘Kodak Aerochrome’. It is not easy for a western artist to produce such work, especially when he is personally disconnected from the place or problems. The photographs that Mosse has produced, are so unique in colour that they capture the eye of the viewer and inform them, to a degree of The Congo and its problems (See Figure 1 above). The uniqueness of the picture above may also distract and become a self-contained image and rather than see context all you will see is the strong pink and red colours.

During his address to the first year students in NCAD, I noted what Richard Mosse had to say about colour:

“The colour reveals the unseen” (Mosse R, 2014).

When I heard Mosse say this, I started to look at the images and wonder, without the context was the image as powerful and did it hide the atrocities that were occurring in the Congo? Such an image doesn’t show the gruesome that is the Congo. In my opinion, the colour was rather a distraction. When I looked at this image, I didn’t see the Congo as it is but rather as Mosse would like me to see it. What was happening and what has happened in the Congo was beyond new representations and especially those representations that prioritised medium over subject, the medium being the Aerochrome film and the subject being the Congo. This work has received a rather overwhelming approval from the art world and this makes you really think whether the whole project was driven by the feeling to make more people aware of The Congo and its problems or was it driven by pressure to produce something unique for a show? I simply do not know.

Can/should artists produce politically neutral work?

I put this questions to an artist and a friend of mine, Fiona Whelan. Fiona Whelan is an artist with a durational practice based in Rialto, working in collaboration with Rialto Youth Project over ten years. She is also Joint Course Coordinator of the MA Socially Engaged Art at NCAD.

Jonathan Myers:  Can an artist produce neutral work?

Fiona Whelan: I’m not neutral and I don’t claim to be so where I have chosen to position my practice and the work I make as an artist is born of my own beliefs, passions and opinions. I am motivated by a range of things and interests and by my own background, position in society, relationships, views etc. So I must accept that they all have an influence on how I see things and more than that, be willing to stand over them. I think this is the way most artists operate, it becomes personal and your work is your response and a reflection of your thought process and position on something. I’m not sure why anyone would want to make what you describe as ‘politically neutral work’. 9I’m interested in hearing if such people exist and their motivation for being neutral.

For a stand point without any subjectivity, is a standpoint with no point of view – which is to say, no standpoint at all (Levinson, JL, 1998)

I do think, as an artist, there can be times where we question what we are doing, especially when doing things like, ‘socially conscious art’ ‘political art’ and ‘personal representations’. In the case of the above image (Taking Tiger Mountain, North Kivu, Eastern Congo, 2011, figure 1­) it seems that this image is just an image and it doesn’t say much but rather express the qualities of Aerochrome film. You could consider it to be politically neutral, if such a term does exist. During our lecture, Mosse had spoken, he mentioned the fact that he had left the subtitles of a lullaby out of a video piece in his installation work as part of ‘The Enclave’. If I remember correctly the lullaby mentions a sentence like this “look in the bushes and you’ll find bones”. I believe including subtitles will inform the viewer of the horrors that exist in The Congo and thus allows the Artist to inform the viewer more without the work becoming depoliticised. This was a choice and I believe a risk lost.

This also comes back to what Mosse had said during his interview with Anthony Hobbs in St. Catherine’s Church on the 27th of January 2014, the quote is as follows,

“A political view in art becomes propaganda” (Mosse R, 2014).

This quote then made me question whether his images had any true integrity or risk in them.

In my opinion, it should have taken a political view. As quoted by Mosse and stated by the International Rescue Committee in a report (Rescue, 2007), that over 5million people have died from 1998 – 2007 from war related causes. Not taking a side can be considered a said in itself.

The trouble with a lot of politically motivated art is a failure of nerve. Artists who produce work that they know is not favoured by our established regime are not necessarily taking risks, since they can forecast the results. Truly taking a risk means not knowing what’s going to happen in the end by Joe Lewis. (Kester 1995)

I do agree however, as an artist one must find an alternative way to document and produce work as compared to a photojournalist who just documents things the way they are. That being said, it does not mean we cannot take a stance or a view point in our work. If one was to represent the Congo, you could not easily do so. With the death toll said to be around 5.4million (rescue, 2007), mass rape, child soldiers and so on, it seems you are either for it, against it or simply doing what a photojournalist does and documents it. I always thought an artist is supposed to bring the viewer on a deeper, more meaningful journey with their work. Is it not too easy to take a photo and display it with video and lights? When an artist starts to become selective about their audience and their interests, they will, in my opinion, begin to lose a certain quality. The quality that allows us to takes risks, produce work based on our interest, based on the things we care about and that mean a lot to us. When we become too selective, our work becomes narrow. This is because of the ‘Reputation Economy’ that is the art world. I still acknowledge that there are artists out there that operate on their terms and not the terms of the economy.

 

One could take the view that by taking photographs, Mosse, through his art, brought a particular attention to the Congo. He focused the outside world upon its brutalities through the medium of his distinctive photography. In this way Mosse sets himself apart from the journalist who want to tell a story, even though it is questionable whether journalist can work without taking a position on the subjects of their stories.

What effect does being in a place over time have on the work that an artist produces there?

This question can only be answered by artists who have spent time in a place different to the one they grew up in or have come accustomed to. In that case, I put the question again to Fiona Whelan.

Jonathan Myers (Me):  What effect does being in a place over time have on the work that you as an artist produce there?

Fiona Whelan: Most artist funding for project based work is limited to periods of less than a year. For collaborative practice, developing relationships becomes a core part of the work which takes time, particularly when working across sector, discipline and knowledge, time is needed to generate understandings of where others are coming from, their motivations, intentions etc. I have been fortunate that I have been in a position to develop an ideas led practice in Rialto that has not been funding driven and can respond to the context, to the relationships and to my own ideas having listened and learned over time. So often artists are brought in to work on a project but there is limited funding afterwards to collectively explore learning and to critique and evaluate and built upon a common experience. For me, I have sustained a decade in one context which means work has developed over many years and can have many layers to it that have meaning for all those involved. I have been able to be present for the aftermath of a project which is not often afforded to the artist which has offered potential to keep building on previous work and to influence new directions. My presence has also had an impact on creating sustainable structures in the context to allow practices to continue beyond a specific artist led project. 

Conclusion

To question whether work holds integrity, how we as westerners produce work influenced by conflict in Africa or anywhere else in the wold is something we must. Just like this essay, we need to questions things. Even the things that are favoured by the large majority. Art shouldn’t be something that just sits on a pedestal. It needs to take a side because it always has something powerful to say and it can evoke great change around the world. Being neutral is a political position. The Enclave and Infra tried something different. It was very unique in look but conflict art itself is not. The use of an old medium was a really good idea and it paid off in terms of uniqueness in the Photographs published in Infra but I don’t believe it was risky enough to challenge the situation in the Congo and how we as westerners view it. Of course I understand it is hard to assess if art challenges or changes perspectives is this will always remain an issue. We cannot fear marginalisation from main stream art when producing work. Integrity holds merit and art hold power.

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography

Mosse, RM, 2012. Infra: Photographs by Richard Mosse. 1st ed. USA: Aperture/Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

Mosse, RM, (2014). Richard Mosse ‘Enclave’. In Interview with Richard Mosse. St. Catherine’s Church, 27/01/2014. NCAD: Jonathan Myers. 106/7.

Mosse, RM, (2014). Richard Mosse ‘Enclave’. In Interview with Richard Mosse. St. Catherine’s Church, 27/01/2014. NCAD: Jonathan Myers. 106/7.

Rescue. 2007. IRC Study Shows Congo’s Neglected Crisis Leaves 5.4 Million Dead; Peace Deal in N. Kivu, Increased Aid Critical to Reducing Death Toll. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.rescue.org/news/irc-study-shows-congos-neglected-crisis-leaves-54-million-dead-peace-deal-n-kivu-increased-aid–4331. [Accessed 19 March 14].

Kester, GH, 1995. Aesthetic Evangelists: Conversion and Empowerment in Contemporary Community Art. 1st ed. United States: Grant Kester.

Levinson, JL, 1998. Aesthetics and Ethics. 1st ed. United States of America: Cambridge University Press.