Spring 2014 BFA Exhibition
Immolation: The Native Feels Alien in Familiar Territory (Detail 2)
Stuart Holland, Boise State UniversityFollow
ink on carved wood
This is part of a series entitled Mutilations.
Mutilations, this culminating body of work is a response to the concept of mind//body dualism. For millennia philosophers, scientists, and other great minds have attempted to understand the connection between these two entities within the Self. The abstract mind and the physical body may appear to be separate entities, but the truth remains that each of their survivals is contingent upon the two working in tandem to create a successful individual; the visceral body being the vessel in which the mind can dwell and also is the conduit through which sensory information is processed to create one’s physical reality. Despite the need for cooperation, rifts can form between the two, granting the mind to seize absolute control, wreaking havoc on the body and ultimately bring about their simultaneous demise in the form of physical death. But in the wake of the brutality of self-inflicted violence, death brings about peace.
The animals depicted in each of the images has its own place and identity established in the lore and culture of society. Each creates its own narrative commenting on how Western society, and more specifically American culture, fabricates and projects identities, either based in fact or fiction, and how that perpetuates these violent, internal conflicts within the individual’s sense of Self. The wolf, the most vilified and hated character in both the lore and history of Western culture, shown disemboweling itself depicts a narrative of how external hate can contort the psyche and manifest in destructive self-loathing within the individual. The eagle, a symbol of regality, power, and majesty throughout the ages of Imperialism but most notably as the icon of the United States, is shown in the midst of preening gone awry; a simple, routine of hygienic nature has taken on an unhealthy level that will soon rob the bird of its ability to fly, and ultimately its life. The bison, the most iconic symbol of the American West whose plains were the home to herds of thousands but were hunted to near extinction in the wake of the insatiable expansion of ‘Manifest Destiny’, alludes to the Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc who lit himself on fire in protest of an oppressive government that was deaf to the cries of its suffering constituents.
Printmaking as an age old art process has emphasized a singular aspect of the process: the printed image itself. However, there is another aspect that has often been left out of the limelight in galleries and museums: the printing matrix/block. In terms of relief printmaking, the block is the symbolic, physical body that undergoes a transformative and often violent process at the hands of the artist’s mind reflecting the same kind of violence depicted in the Mutilations. By displaying the block itself as a resolved piece on a gallery wall, these works straddle the line between sculptural, 3D work and the typical 2D characteristics of prints, further emphasizing the barely discernible boundary between mind and body; works that maintain a sense of significant physical presence while also speaking to classical works as well as creating a contemporary image based mythology.
© Stuart Holland, 2014.
Series Title: Mutilations
Since May 29, 2014