Visual Symbols of Power_ Oppression_ and Protest.ppt

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					Visual Symbols of Power,
Oppression, and Protest
Since the earliest times, man has created visual
   symbols to gain or express power over his
Whether in life or death, the Egyptian Pharaohs
      displayed their symbols of power.
Symbols of power among many cultures, like the Maya, were
affected by geographical influences such as plant and animal
                  life and mineral wealth.
The Aztec culture had many similar customs and
               symbols of power.
The Chinese Emperors had many symbols of their power—
clothing design and color, furniture, armor, weapons, seals,
                  knowledge and skills.
Likewise, members of the English monarchy, such as Henry
 VIII, displayed the clothing, scepters, and other items that
             signified their power and position.
Horses were a common symbol of power in
           European portraits.
Even our American Presidents had flags, weapons,
       and seals to represent their power.
A modern CEO has his own symbols of power.
And no matter what the time or place, the exercise of power
 meant that others were subject to that power, sometimes

                              • Zhao Yannian
                                ―Nightmare # 2‖ 1989,
                              • The hand pushing down
                                the head gives this piece
                                a sense of both the
                                physicality of the act and
                                the emotional
                                ramifications of the
 The Egyptians enslaved conquered
people and put them to work building
         their monuments.
The Aztecs and Mayans killed or
   sacrificed their enemies.
Chinese rulers from Ghenghis Khan to PuYi maintained
control of their power and territories by eliminating the
In both England and France invaders and citizens
  alike were beheaded for their religious beliefs.
American colonists participated in the slave trade from Africa
and engaged in wars with Native American peoples, forcing
        them from their lands and hunting grounds.
Artists have used their skills to record these events or
   raise their own symbols of protest against these
                   abuses of power.
                             • Li Hua's Roar, China!,
                               1935 is poignant in its
                               emotional directness.
                               Sharp contrasts of black
                               and white are used to
                               emphasize conflict, and
                               body movements are
                               portrayed as purposeful
                               and/or expressive of
                               intense emotions.
• Zhao Yannian is a major figure in
  the New Chinese Woodblock
  Movement (Creative Print
  Movement), founded in 1931 by
  the social critic, writer, and
  intellectual father of the Chinese
  revolution, Lu Xun (1881-1936).
  Inspired by the technique, style and
  subject matter of such European
  artists as Käthe Kollwitz and Frans
  Masereel, Zhao and other artists in
  the movement carved their own
  blocks and used their art to
  comment on current social and
  political events and to influence
  revolutionary politics.
Käthe Kollwitz - Germany, 1867-1945
                   • ―Beim Dengeln‖ is a
                     startling image of a
                     peasant sharpening a
                     scythe, with the clear
                     implication that the
                     tool could also serve as
                     a weapon.
                   • The image tells a story
                     and presents an image
                     that has universal
                     recognition and appeal.
Images can portray both the brutality and the
           courage of the event.
• Diego Rivera creates a
  contrast with past
  cultural convention by
  showing Mexican
  revolutionary leader
  Emiliana Zapata on a
  level with the horse he
  has seized from its
  former owner.
• Zapata's quiet
  assumption of power
  won him respect rather
  than fear.
• The most effective
  images are simple,
  clear, and contain the
  most universally
  recognized symbols.
• They work best when
  they are publicly
  displayed, rather than
  having limited
  audience exposure.
Lenin and Stalin, an example of the official   Komar & Melamid, Double Self Portrait as Lenin
art of socialist realism, 1950s, USSR.         & Stalin, 1972. From Sots Art series. First
                                               Version. Destroyed in the ―Bulldozer
                                               Exhibition‖ along with other Sots Art works.
   • An artist may rely on the ―shock value‖ of using
     satirical versions of familiar or official cultural images in
     forbidden ways in their protest art.
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill,
along with U.S. President Franklin
Roosevelt and Soviet Leader Joseph
Stalin, attend the conference at Yalta.
February 1945. (Photo credit: U.S.          Komar & Melamid, Yalta Conference, 1982,
National Archives)                          tempera and oil on canvas, 72‖X48‖.
Some artists may develop personal images that relate
          to the expression of their ideas.
                           •   Hong Zhang created a series of
                               pictures on the gender revolution in
                           •   The first picture in the series represents
                               the women of Hong’s grandmother’s
                           •   ―The cage represents the patriarchal
                               society that kept women bound to the
                               private space within the home.
                               Grandmother also had bound feet, the
                               practice that crushed the bones and
                               deformed the feet of young girls so
                               they can have the outward appearance
                               of tiny delicate feet. The goal was to
                               have a "Three Inch Golden Lotus"
                               (sancun jinlian), but the actual result was
                               unbelievable pain that lasted a lifetime.
                               In this picture, grandmother is sewing a
                               normal size pair of cotton shoes
                               because her daughter was the first
                               woman in her family to break the cycle
                               of bound feet. The character on the
                               dish is ―food‖.
• Hong’s second image represents
  her mother’s generation.
• ―Unlike my grandmother, the cage
  door is open. Mother had more
  freedom as a women in the
  Communist Chinese society. Her
  feet were not bound and she had a
  number of career opportunities.
  Still, my mother did not have the
  freedom to say or do what she
  wanted. Her cage was the
  restrictions of the day and Maoist
  Thought, especially during the
  Cultural Revolution (1966-1976).
  The Chinese character on the cup
  is (weibing or hongweibing); the Red
• The final image in the series
  represents the artist’s generation.
• ―Compared to my grandmother
  and my mother's generations,
  Chinese society has progressed and
  the situation for young urban
  women in China has improved.
  The cage is open and I can sit on
  the outside. The Chinese character
  on the cup is fu meaning good
  fortune. Also notice that the feet
  are uncovered and slightly
  exaggerated (larger than normal).‖
• These images would be easily
  recognized inside China, but might
  not be as meaningful elsewhere
  where the viewer lacked the
  cultural background to interpret
  the iconography.
   In America, we have our own highly
recognized images of the changing image
          of women in society.

      • Norman Rockwell's iconic
        image of "Rosie the Riveter"
        was modeled on Michelangelo's
         Appearing for the first time on the
         cover of the Saturday Evening Post
         in 1943, Rosie came to represent
         the growth in the power of
         American women brought about
         by war.
         This adaptation of Rosie for an
         American War Poster is typical of
         the theme – symbolizing, as it does,
         the sense of empowerment,
         freedom, emancipation and
Artists have used their skills to bring our attention to
            the social issues of their day.
                             • Norman Rockwell gave
                               us numerous poignant
                               images of the fight
                               against racial
Stereotypical images of the “Negro Mammy”
 were replaced by images that showed quiet
   dignity and eventually blatant militancy.
Artists used classical art images as the model for new art styles and the
                 changing views of the ideal of beauty.
Art can be a powerful instrument for
• In speaking of most of the WPA sponsored art,
  Thomas Craven said, ―They are using art as the tool for
  propagation of economic notions which, though
  distributed geographically, are far from universal in
  their application. No art can be enslaved to doctrine.
  Art in its proper manifestations, is a communicative
  instrument; but it communicates its own findings—not
  what is doled out to it, not what an economic theory
  imposes upon it, but its discoveries in any department
  of life.‖
• Diego Rivera, along with his compatriots David Alfaro Siquieros and José
  Clemente Orozco, broke the dependent links to European culture, helping to
  create authentic visual aesthetics for Mexico, with an emphasis on indigenism
  (or ―indianism‖), folk characters, historic epics, solidarity with the
  dispossessed, dramatization of class conflicts, mockery of the egotism and
  hypocrisy of those in power, and a celebration of the traditional rites and
  myths. These artists expressed the idealistic belief in the possibility of cultural
  change and the social responsibility of the artist.
Many artists would no doubt agree with Charles Wilbur White’s statement,
              “Paint is the only weapon I have
              with which to fight what I resent.”

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