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September 1, 2008

Quarter Gallery - Silver-gelatin prints

WARNING: These pictures bring out the “un-American� side of me. If you are deeply religious or are a firm believer in the US's mandated position as the #1 country, you may not want to read further.

Quarter Gallery

Victoria Lynn Turke – Lament. Silver-gelatin prints.
Composed of 3 pictures:
-woman (widow?), holding American flag to face, mourning into it. Bearing loss of loved one “for America�?
-heavily used army boots, dirty, worn, empty, missing wearer, soldier dead?, nobody left to fill boots.
-3 pairs of dogtags and a number of bullets haphazardly laying together – all that is left of soldiers after war?

These photographs make me think of the guest speaker we had who showed us slides and asked if they were positive or negative. Specifically, this makes me thing about the picture of the two bones (femurs?), one painted with the red/white/blue of America (Britain maybe?) and the other painted the red/yellow/black of Germany. Like the bones, these images of a mourning woman holding a flag next to the empty boots of (I assume) her dead lover, and of his dogtags (plus two others: killers? Comrades?) amongst the bullets that (I assume again) killed him, make me think of nationalism and its costs in human life. The bones made me think of the people whom are nationalistic hawks, “[insert country] right or wrong�, the kind of people who are responsible for so much suffering in the world. these images make me think of the consequences of nationalistic arrogance and how the people who get dragged into it, either willingly, through brainwashing, or as collateral damage, suffer under the guise of “patriotism�. The use of black and white silver-gelatin prints makes the images much colder, making them more emotionally charged. To me, it also makes it seem as though these are old images – the suffering of the people captured in them now lost to time.

Victoria Lynn Turke – Faith: Silver-geletin prints.
Composed of 7 pictures on wood blocks, arranged in the shape of a christian cross. Images are:
- Bottom: snake, egg – reference to the evil snake of adam/eve? Not sure of significance of egg.
- 2nd from bottom: Decorated goblet, ashes, spilled – ashes of Christ(?) spilled, disrespect to ancestors?, carelessness in 'faith'?
- 3rd from bottom: Bible in jar, page turned to “Lamentations� (reference to 'Lament'?) - jar/store away faith until we need it?, opportunistic use of faith?, insincerity?
- Middle, sides: horizontal portion of cross, three pictures of candles, sides have just candles, middle picture contains candles and bullets, primer-down (pointed towards top frame). Worship through ritual and violence?
- Top: seductive woman w/ cross around her neck, dress strap down shoulder – temptation?, declaring one's religion (cross), but either being ignorant of its teachings or blatantly disregarding them (or maybe making them your own?).
The use of the silver-gelatin prints makes these images look lifeless, almost robotic. Very interesting framing of the work – the horizontal line of candles with bullets fits it together well.

This piece makes me think about insincerity and religion, that those who declare themselves 'faithful' are themselves often not practicing what they preach. (which reminds me of a quote of Mahatma Gandhi's: “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ�) It makes me think about the inconsistencies and hypocrisies that arise from religion and, similarly, nationalism. Love your neighbor, but not if they're a [insert religion or nationality]. I know that many would argue that these are people that are manipulating religion, or that they are ignorant of the religion's 'true' message (everybody's 'true message' is different), and I know there are many, many religious people that would not so blatantly follow that negative line of thought, but I'd argue back that religion, because of how it ambiguously and inconsistently addresses some of human life's most pressing questions (“why are we here?� “how are we here?�) it only helps to divide people and gives some people a 'mandate' to purge others with differing beliefs (ref to the bullets). It is often used as a means to justify the evils that we do – especially war. This brings me back to nationalism and 'Lament', which in itself is a lot like a religion. The placement of 'Lament' next to 'Faith' (not to mention the bible is opened to the chapter “Lamentations�) brings to my mind the relationship between nationalism and religion: they're both powerful social forces that divide and destroy us under arrogant and baseless pretenses.