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December 3, 2008

Speaking of Home-Nancy Ann Coyne

In October I visited a display called "Speaking of Home." I wanted to go to this on in particular because it was displayed in a skyway of the IDS tower, which I thought would be interesting. The exhibition was technically a one-person project that was put together by one person, but the photos of each person were considered to be a collaborator as well. There were about 20 or so different photographs and each was blown up to span the skyway side by side. The photos could even be seen clearly from the street.
The main theme of the exhibition was about the difference of "home" to the many different cultures in the Twin Cities. It showcases the fact that so many different cultures reside here and contains a very unique scale of diversity. The work wasn't so much intended to display the artist's WORK but more the idea and the thoughts and feelings that arise from the simple family photographs that show different people in the comfort of the place they call "home."
All of the photos were printed black and white, which, to me, made them go together a lot better than if they all had widely different colors (since they were submitted family photos.) One in particular was called "Leila Habashi," a woman from Iran who, in the picture, is holding her hand above her head as if to block a glare from the sun. She appears very simple and content, but also happy. This was probably the most striking to me because her happiness was the most obvious of the photos, whereas most of the others were more laid-back, low emotion photos.
I would tell a friend to go check the exhibit out if they were downtown. I liked the idea behind the photos, but the actual work itself didn't strike me as particularly interesting. The spot it was displayed in was extremely unique, and the grand scale made it very eye-popping and exciting. It was also pretty cool that people who weren't intended on seeing an art display (such as business people) ended up seeing it anyways, even though while I was there, many people didn't pay a lot of attention towards it.

Hindsight is Always 20/20 Kyle Stration

The gallery that I chose to visit was “Hindsight is Always 20/20� by R. Luke DuBois. The exhibit was a series of prints that analyzed the State of the Union address from each of the 44 presidents and organized each of their 66 most commonly used words from the most frequently used to the less frequent. Each piece’s composition was identical to all the rest, with the only difference being what words were printed, and what president gave the address. Each print was very simple, just like an eye chart. They were dark black ink printed on white paper in a white frame. A nice detail was that just like at the doctor’s office, DuBois had printed the numbers on the edges that say what your vision is, and how far you should stand from the piece. The pieces were organized in order of the presidents, so the first that anyone saw was George Washington’s and the last, George Bush’s. Barack Obama was included, but his was on a computer since he gave his address after the gallery had been set up.
The main theme of the exhibition was to show what each president said in their addresses. I believe that what DuBois was pointing out was what each president thought was most important in their presidency, or at least what they wanted the public to see as most important. The biggest boldest words stood out in a much more visual sense than they did when each president gave their address, but in the same way that the repetition of those words made people think about them, so too does the sheer size of some words. A few examples of these words were, “DEMOCRAT, UNEMPLOYMENT, WAGES, SLAVERY, EMACIPATION, SOVIET, CHANGE�, and my favorite, “TERROR�. It was interesting to me to be able to place a time frame on some of the major words. “SLAVERY�, and “EMANCIPATION� both came near Lincoln’s presidency, “SOVIET� during the time of the Cold War, with a few extremely obvious ones in our recent history like “TERROR� from president Bush, and “CHANGE� from Obama. Though DuBois came up with the idea and ultimately executed it, his name is in the background. The names that are remembered are the names of the individual presidents that gave the State of the Union address.
Personally my favorite print was Jimmy Carter’s. A few of his boldest words were, “US, Afghanistan, Iran, Global, Funding, Solar, Administrations, Israel�, and “Minority�. As the words got smaller, they read, “Refugees, Arts, Elderly, Healthy, Disadvantaged, Launched, Hazardous�, and “Solve�. I found this interesting because the words that appeared I felt could have been switched with President Bush’s with few changes. It is weird to me that the problems we were facing in the 1980’s seem strikingly similar to those we faced in the last administration, and will likely continue to face in the future. I think that these two in particular (Bush and Carter) make an interesting commentary on what little change has occurred in my lifetime. The fact that concerns of each could be so similar even while separated by more than 20 years is frightening.
I would suggest that people go to see this exhibit, especially if they have much of an interest in politics or American history. With the speeches dissected, and the most common words taken out of their original context one might think that the messages would be lost, or misinterpreted. I think, however, in some instances picking and choosing the most common words makes them all the more important. At the same time, the chosen words begin an interesting discussion about each president. And as is often the goal with artists, DuBois gets people talking about his work through this exhibit.

Hindsight is Always 20/20 accompanied by What do you Say, America?

Many shows have come through Minneapolis and made their way into the Weisman museum on campus. Most recently an exhibit by the name of Hindsight is Always 20/20 was available for viewing. This was accompanied by another exhibit named What do you Say, America?. Hindsight consisted of work done by one artist named R. Luke DuBois. He displayed 43 pieces; one for each of our presidents up to George Walker Bush. The exhibit was arranged in a particular fashion, starting with George Washington and ending with George Walker Bush. This order was in the exact order of when the men came into presidency. As for What do you Say, America?, it was supplied to accompany Hindsight. It was a collection of posters from WWI and WWII that the Weisman had already. These posters did not seem to be in any particular order, but they all were very forceful and to the point. This exhibit was a collection of many different artists.
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For Hindsight, R. Luke DuBois’work is a collection of pieces which include words in the form of an eye test. As the words go down they page they become smaller and smaller. These words were not just any random words; they were chosen directly from the State of the Union addresses presented by the past presidents of our country. Words that were unique were put on the poster, while words such as united or states were left out. The biggest word at the top of the page seemed to be the flashiest word. They were all different, but some examples of what could be seen was terror, or fear, or communism. For What do you Say, America?, most of the posters seemed to be influenced by WWII. There was talk of rationing food, and making sure not to talk carelessly incase it carried to enemy ears. These were all very prominent themes throughout the posters, and these themes were shown bluntly through this use of propaganda. It was an in your face way to show people how to do things the “right way� or how to be patriotic.

Out of the two exhibits, I was able to find a favorite piece in both of them. My favorite work in the Hindsight exhibit was the most current, Which was the representation of George Walker Bush. The big pronounced word on his was terror. It went on the talk about the Iraq war, and Iraqis and what we are going to do about this “problem�. Reading just the little tidbits of it now after seeing what our country, and other countries, have been put through makes me wonder why we stood behind him while he said this all in the beginning. I believe this is a thought that the author wanted us to have, to allow us to skip past the big words and pretty façade to get to the true hard facts of what was said.
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My favorite piece in What do you Say, America? was a piece by Victor Keppler titled Wanted! For Murder which was made in 1944. It displayed a woman in a wanted-type poster because she had carelessly talked. This careless talk led to the death of US soldiers because it traveled to the ears of an enemy. This was a big thought during the world wars, and it displays the thought that we could not trust anyone. That is a darkening thought and I am sure that is what the author might have wanted to portray. It was every man and woman for themselves.


I believe these were very interesting exhibits to see. They complemented each other very well. It was perfect timing for it to be displayed at the Weisman because of the election we just had. It would be very informative to see what other presidents have said during their address, and then to see what our new president elect Barack Obama says during his. I would recommend this to people because it is definitely a new way to view our government. At first when I walked in I was confused, but the artist statement and definition of what the work portrays allows you to see it in a different light, which helped immensely.

What do YOU say AMERICA

Jonathan Lawson

The focus of this writing will be on the "What do YOU say AMERICA" exhibit at the Weisman Art Museum that is running parallel with the "Hindsight is Always 20/20" exhibit. This exhibit showcased a variety of posters that appeared to have been copied from originals done in paint. There was a total of 29 pieces from both the World Wars, with the majority coming form WWII. The pieces were placed along the walls in a square chamber for the most part at eye level with a few pieces that were above the others likely so that they fit better. The posters were made by a wide range of people, although much about the artists was unknown, on many the only known fact was the name because of a signature on the poster. Similar to how Hubert Duprat is considered an artist for his larval tubes, it could be stated that the artist for many of these pieces is in fact the US government. It was them who commissioned the pieces for particular goals, in place of the people that physically created the original poster.

This exhibit was about American propaganda and how the government speaks to the people. Some posters were calls to action to directly help the war front, such as the poster asking women to work in factories machining tools of war, while others were counter-propaganda posters. There was a stark difference in these two approaches. The direct call posters were realistic in appearance and drew on nationalism, where as the counter-propaganda posters were cartoonish and comical in appearance, and drew on arrogance, implying that one would have to be stupid to believe anything the Germans said. In addition to these two types there was another type of poster that fit more as indirect help to the war effort. Within this category were posters asking for conservation of food and oil and cautioning against 'careless talk' and accidental injury.

An example of one poster (to which a link has been provided), which falls under the group of indirect help, is the one titled "Food is a weapon, Don't Waste it!" This poster appears to have been originally created by painting. In the image there is an empty cup, and a plate with only a few bones that have been picked clean on it, along with the following text:
FOOD IS A WEAPON
DON'T WASTE IT!
BUY WISELY - COOK CAREFULLY - EAT IT ALL
FOLLOW THE NATIONAL WARTIME NUTRITION PROGRAM
The artist behind the piece is unknown, but even without the text on it, in the context of a War Era poster, its message remains clear. Eat everything, let nothing go to waste. The artist behind the poster was probably instructed to make something to promote the National Wartime Nutrition Program, possibly even with that specific tag line. With that in mind, I can't think of an image that to me would be more effective in conveying the message.

Though I found the images interesting, I do not think I would tell a friend to visit the exhibit, unless they happened to be nearby already. There are many collections of WWII propaganda posters available online and these images aren't much different in person then on a computer. The message they convey remains the same, only with an online collection there would be more available pieces to view.

Food is a Weapon: http://www.nh.gov/nhsl/ww2/ww10prt.html

Joe Kaercher's Gallery visit

Joseph Kaercher
Hindsight is Always 20/20
Weisman Art Museum, University of Minnesota
333 East River Road 
Minneapolis, MN 55455

R. Luke Dubois's exhibition Hindsight is Always 20/20 consists of 41 framed prints. The work is hung on the wall and fills a number of rooms. The text in the prints comes from the most frequently used words of each stat of the union address.DuBois presented the words in the format of a typical eye exam with words at the top of the print being the largest and progressively getting smaller as the viewer reads down the page. Each president that gave this address has his own print starting with the first president George Washington. All of the prints are in chronological order and there are arrows that direct the viewer around the exhibit ending with the current president in office George W Bush.
DuBois theme is how each president interprets and conveys the important issues the country and world are facing at the time of their presidency. The way that DuBois takes information that might not be obvious if you have only heard the speeches and just displays them in a way that is very simple and even easier to understand. This is similar to the work of Nan Goldin. She also kind of simplifies things (in her case photos of people). If you were to just see these people on the street you might be a little confused about who they are and what it is that they do. Her photos expose her life and the peoples lives around her. by taking snap shots of moments and situations that are key to understanding their lives she eliminates the misleading information.
The specific piece i picked was George Walker Bush/2001-2009. Here are the top ten most frequently used words of his speech. 1.Terror 2.Iraq 3.Iraqi 4.Terrorist 5.Al Qaida 6.Regime 7.Hussein 8.Mass 9.Homeland 10.Marriage. he was inspired by a huge search-able database of all presidential addresses, papers, and documents. i like how he uses the list to play off our cultures fascination with the list, and how the info in the list may not even tell us that much
Over all i think the show was very interesting and not the typical kind of exhibit one finds in a museum. I will tell a friend to see this exhibit because it is really fun to be able to look back in time just by reading the individual words that our former presidents said most often.

December 2, 2008

Hindsight is Always 20/20

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"Hindsight is Always 20/20" is a one-person exhibition by R. Luke DuBois. DuBois presents these issues through simple prints, but in a very unique way. After his visit at the University of California Santa Barbara to work on the American Presidency Project, DuBois became more interested on the presidency issues and took the subject even further by focusing on State of the Union address. As a result from his research, DuBois came up with an exhibition that depicts the issues that the leaders and the public had to face with and how both the leaders and the public see these issues at the given time.

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India: Public Places, Private Spaces

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India: Public Places, Private Spaces is the featured exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. This exhibit displays the work of 28 artists who provide an insight into the contemporary psyche of Indians. Over 100 photographs and video art are showcased, allowing the viewer to gain insight to contemporary Indian artists’ view on topics such as India’s economic and political shift, caste systems, and the flip of cultural traditions. It was arranged by artist and by the different issues of modern-day India mixing photography and video art in the same space.

The theme of this exhibit is the exploration of the multiple dynamics that have shaped the current Indian psyche as viewed through the lens of the artist, which aims to interpret and influence. The works on display vary from photojournalism, for example a series of photos by Raghu Rai depict the death and funeral of India’s Prime Minister, Indira Ghandi, to photo manipulation that express the artists feelings and display very personal narratives.

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The work of Pushpamala N, entitled “Phantom Lady or Kismet,� is a series of photographs that draw from familiar Indian iconography and structures found in Bollywood. The high contrast noir vignettes create a dramatic narrative, which reflect character archetypes found in Indian cinema. In fact what Pushpamala is doing is drafting commentary on popular Indian culture by dressing up as a Zorro clad heroine, this critiques popular culture while respecting historic visual art represented in photos and movies. The dramatic lighting style mimics competence found in Indian visual design and offers a wider comment on the media’s portrayal of female heroes.

India: Public Places, Private Spaces invites the viewers inside India and narrates a story of a transforming country where the people reexamine cultural traditions, sexuality, caste systems, and politics. I would recommend going to see this exhibit.

November 22, 2008

Millions of Innocent Accidents and Unconventional Wisdom Exhibition (Closed October 26)

Millions of Innocent Accidents by Hardland/Heartland (Eric Carlson, Aaron Anderson, and Crystal Quinn) and Unconventional Wisdom by Mike Elko and Ruthann Godollei were exhibitions housed in the MAEP Galleries at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

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WE (2007) - Hardland/Heartland

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November 14, 2008

Gallery Visit

Hindsight is Always 20/20, the fall exhibition running at the Weisman art museum gave viewers an interesting vantage point into previous presidents and their supposed “top issues� for their presidency. R. Luke DuBois, an artist, composer and performer has created forty-one prints of each president’s most frequently spoken words in their State of the Union. He created an algorithm that sorted the word frequency, showing how technology is used to create art that was then presented as a Snellen chart, the commonly recognized chart seen at optometry offices used to test patients’ vision. The word regularity determined the size and placement on the chart; higher frequency yielded a larger size. The exhibition moved chronologically from George Washington to George W. Bush following the parameters of three galleries, yet these two end up separated only by a walkway, giving the viewer an interesting perspective into how politics have changed.

It is clear that the overall theme of this exhibition is political rhetoric and how it relates to political reality. Each piece shows a modern analysis on American history and informs the viewer of the concerns of each era. For example, Truman’s most frequently used word was “Soviet� and Hoover’s “Unemployment.� Words used repetitively force a message onto the public, and in many ways can be a signature of a presidential administration. Thus, one word teaches us much about central themes and challenges that our nation has experienced. This reminded me of a piece we reflected on in class, Suzanne Opton’s Soldier Project. With the same concept, one word resonated emotion and sentiment beyond that particular word. Both made a political statement in a simple, non-partisan way.

Though I initially couldn’t grasp the exhibit, I feel after reflection, it holds much more depth and validity than one’s initial reaction can acquire. My favorite part of the piece consisted of two “eye-charts�: Washington and Bush. The layout of the exhibit worked in its favor here, placing the two near enough to one another to allow the viewer to encounter both at the same time. Washington’s word, “Gentleman,� was placed merely feet away from Bush’s “Terror,� forcing me to examine how the presidential word can go from something so polite to that of fear mongering. The piece itself led me to reflect on how politicians as a whole have exploited fear in the past eight years by utilizing the impact it has on Americans. Clearly, the presidential election this past week has had an impact on the motivation for this piece. But rather than forcing an opinion on the audience, DuBois allows us to create our own opinions.

I would recommend this exhibition to my colleagues, especially those intrigued by history. I feel this piece would have made a larger impact on me if I were not so inept in American history and I knew more of what was going on in the time frames that these presidents held office. So before exploring the display, I would also recommend a quick refresher on some important events in the last 250 years.