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Mid American

This painting was by Ed Paschke in 1969. 40 years ago. It is on exhibit at the new modern wing of the Art Institute of Chicago. For some unknown reason, I found it sad and strangely resonating when I saw it for the first time. And till this day, I am haunted by it.

“The inscription on his shorts, Our Cover—like the tattoo on his chest, the mask on his face, the baseball mitts that float next to him, and his athletic attire—suggests the social markings used to conceal, protect, and layer a middleclass, middle-American identity.” (From the Art Institute of Chicago website)

I am pretty damn sure that the artist didn’t have someone like me in mind when he created this piece. I am as far away from “Mid American” as possible. Perhaps it is the longing to belong that sometimes creeps into my subconsciousness? The exhaustion from wanting to appear normal? Blend in. Quiet the noises. No need to be so goddamn vigilant all the time.

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"We will not become what we mean to you"

This is yet another picture I took of the art works that resonated with me when we went through the new Modern Wing at the Art Institute of Chicago.

“We will not become what we mean to you.”

I think about that sentence often ever since…

“I’m interested in how identities are constructed, how stereotypes are formed, how narratives sort of congeal and become history.” This is how the artist, Barbara Kruger, explained the thoughts behind her creation.

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Valiant Struggle No 11

Valiant Struggle No 11

Valiant Struggle No 11, originally uploaded by The Absence of Alternatives.

This piece is part of the Public Art exhibit in Chicago: “A Conversation with Chicago: Contemporary Sculptures from China“.

Valiant Struggle No. 11 by Chen Wenlin

I like “Protest Art”, or art with a message, as much as the next socially conscious and politically aware person. But can we say “Didactic”, let’s just call a spade a spade, eh?

Chen’s other sculptures, including the original piece with the same name, do not seem as “hitting you on the head with a giant hammer”…  Perhaps the choice of red and gold was pushing it a bit too over the top?…

p.s. Is it just me? I had no desire whatsoever to get my own pictures taken with this sculpture. It would be like having your picture taken with a lecture that’s written with you in mind…  Am I the only one that is reading the irony in this situation?

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