31 January 2008

Waggle & Tug

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Nancy Rexroth, "Folding House, New Lexington, Ohio" (1974);
vintage silver print (from a Diana camera), 8" x 10"

Click on image to see larger version in a new window.

"Images must reach in and waggle and tug the guts."
~ Nancy Rexroth (b. 1946)


"An artist is an artist only because of his exquisite sense of beauty, a sense which shows him intoxicating pleasures, but which at the same time implies and contains an equally exquisite sense of all deformities and all disproportion."
~ Charles Baudelaire


Conceive me as a dream of stone:
my breast, where mortals come to grief,
is made to prompt all poets' love,
mute and noble as matter itself.

With snow for flesh, with ice for heart,
I sit on high, an unguessed sphinx
begrudging acts that alter forms;
I never laugh, I never weep.

In studious awe the poets brood
before my monumental pose
aped from the proudest pedestal,
and to bind these docile lovers fast
I freeze the world in a perfect mirror:

The timeless light of my wide eyes.

~ Charles Baudelaire

30 January 2008

Off the Beaten Path

Faces in Places
"A photographic collection of faces found in everyday places."

Lucy Pringle's Crop Circle Photograph Library
"Lucy is one of the world's leading crop circle photographers. Hers are among the best photographs available portraying the enigmatic crop circle mystery."

"An Amazing Perspective"
A sequence of images from Istvan Banyai's Zoom

Anything Is Possible

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Tim Davis, "McDonalds 2 (Blue Fence)" (2000)
Click on image to see larger version in a new window.

"A well-known art critic recently told me, 'You know, photography is over.' To which I responded, 'Actually it's art criticism that's over.' He humbly offered that it had never been here, but I'd intended genuine condolence. It must be hard to be a critic at a time when the only thing notably absent from the art world is fierce dialogue. Not only is there no Salon to be refused from, there are no camps, no ideologies, no methods, no movements. Anything is possible, and that is the definition of a heyday. Isn't it?"
~ Tim Davis (b. 1968)

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Tim Davis, "Rubble Letters"

Fractal Wrongness

A recent (and unfortunate) foray into the troubled terrain of U.S. political blogging reminded me of the term "fractal wrongness," which I first encountered at Artblog.net.

As the links suggest, fractal wrongness is not specific to politics, but has a wide variety of potential applications.
fractal wrongness
via Keunwoo Lee's "Lexicon of Computing"

The state of being wrong at every conceivable scale of resolution. That is, from a distance, a fractally wrong person's worldview is incorrect; and furthermore, if you zoom in on any small part of that person's worldview, that part is just as wrong as the whole worldview.

Debating with a person who is fractally wrong leads to infinite regress, as every refutation you make of that person's opinions will lead to a rejoinder, full of half-truths, leaps of logic, and outright lies, that requires just as much refutation to debunk as the first one. It is as impossible to convince a fractally wrong person of anything as it is to walk around the edge of the Mandelbrot set in finite time.

If you ever get embroiled in a discussion with a fractally wrong person on the Internet -- in mailing lists, newsgroups, or website forums--your best bet is to say your piece once and ignore any replies, thus saving yourself time.
Mandelbrot Section
a section of a Mandelbrot set

29 January 2008


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Saul Steinberg, untitled (1962); ink on paper.
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"The artist is an educator of artists of the future."
~ Saul Steinberg (1914-1999)


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Marlene Dumas, "Die Baba" (1985); oil on canvas on linen; approx. 51" x 43"
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"No painting can exist without the tension of what it figures and what it concretely consists of. The pleasure of what it could mean and the pain of what it's not."
~ Marlene Dumas (b. 1953)

28 January 2008

Jukebox Rodeo

"The imperatives and questions with which we are infused do not emanate from the I: it is not even there to hear them. The imperatives are those of being, while every question is ontological and distributes 'that which is' among problems."
~ Gilles Deleuze, Difference and Repetition (1968)
[cited by Larval Subjects in a post from last Thursday: "Signs, Constellations, and Ontological Insecurity"]

. o 0 O 0 o .

PostQueerProject mail art call: "public art meets queer identities." They also have a MySpace page.
[via Just Seeds]

. o 0 O 0 o .

Blurb self-publishing. Create your own softcover or hardcover book, with 4-color printing: photos, artwork, and/or text. Minimum order is only one book, with prices starting at $12.95 (plus shipping) for a 7" x 7" softcover volume of 20-40 pages. Free bookmaking software available for download.
[h/t: Andy Ilachinski's Tao of Photography]

Normally I don't care to pimp for commercial sites, but this seems like a reasonably priced way to break into an exclusive medium. Let me know if you publish anything. I may have a little spare change in the kitty.

. o 0 O 0 o .

Natural Burials: "Traditional funeral practices harm the environment; green burials let the earth rest in peace."

. o 0 O 0 o .

"... [O]ne might 'read' a mix as simply a random collection of music. For example, listening to a tape with Van Morrison's 'And It Stoned Me,' a listener can parse this ballad as a meaningful unit unto itself, even when it's followed by another ballad such as the Beatles' 'The Ballad of John & Yoko.' But this is a very simplistic mode of listening, and hardly anyone would listen in this manner exclusively. More often than not, the mixed tape is an invitation to play a game. When loosely connected songs are set side-by side, it is easy to understand the riddle being asked of the listener: 'What's the theme of this tape?' or more to the point, 'What does all this mean?'"
~ from "Mixed Feelings: Notes on the Romance of the Mixed Tape," by Kamal Fox (in Rhizomes #5, Fall 2002)

That may be the riddle of blogging as well: What does all this mean?

27 January 2008

Abstract Household #3

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Some of my own work for a change: more "Abstract Household" snapshots. These are pics of olive oil and water in a saucepan. Click on images to see larger versions in a new window.

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Abstract Household #1
Abstract Household #2

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26 January 2008


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Jules Olitski, "Night and Light"

"There is value in long years of obscurity, if one doesn't go insane or suicidal, in that, simply because nobody is looking, the habit of fooling around and trying things out gets ingrained."
~ Jules Olitski (1922-2007)

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Jules Olitski, "Comprehensive Dream" (1965)
Acrylic on canvas, 112.75" x 92.5"

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25 January 2008

Opiate of the Messes

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Francis Picabia, "Edtaonisl (Clergyman)"
1913; oil on canvas, 118.75" x 118.25"; Art Institute of Chicago.
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Francis Picabia, 1879-1953.
The Cubists want to cover Dada with snow; that may surprise you, but it is so, they want to empty the snow from their pipe to bury Dada.

Are you sure?

Perfectly sure, the facts are revealed by grotesque mouths. They think that Dada can prevent them from practising this odious trade: Selling art expensively.

Art costs more than sausages, more than women, more than everything.

Art is visible like God! (see Saint-Sulpice.)

Art is a pharmaceutical product for imbeciles.
~ from Francis Picabia's "Dada Manifesto" (1920), as translated in Manifesto: A Century of Isms, by Mary Ann Caws

24 January 2008

Today Is The Day

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Robert Motherwell, untitled lithograph (1967); approx. 12" x 9"
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Robert Motherwell was born on this day in 1915 (d. 16 July 1991). Also born on this day: actor Ernest Borgnine (1917), televangelist Oral Roberts (1918), zoologist Desmond Morris (1928), singer-songwriter Neil Diamond (1941), and original-edition Not Ready For Prime Time Player John Belushi (1949-1982) -- which would have made for one heck of a surreal birthday party, circa 1977.

One Sentence: "True stories, told in one sentence."

The Story Of The Artists: "originally told by the sufi, Rumi."

"Readymechs are free, flatpack toys for you to print and build. They are designed to fit on an 8.5" x 11" page and printed with any printer. You'll need double-sided tape, thick matte paper, and 10-15 minutes for build time."

Librarian Chick: "a list of free resources for students and educators... and anyone else who's hip to learning."

23 January 2008

Dada Wins!

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Raoul Hausmann, "Dada siegt! (Dada Wins!)" (1920)
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22 January 2008


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Nicole Eisenman, "Conscious Mind of the Artist
(Subconscious Decision and Actions in Progress)"
(2007); oil on canvas, 39" x 48"

Click on image to see larger version in a new window.

"What I value in other people's art and my own is imagination and personal things. Politics just seems to me to be mean-spirited and trendy. I don't see myself as being in a combative stance."
~ Nicole Eisenman
  • Nicole Eisenman at Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects: "A Show Born of Fear" (October 27 - December 8, 2007)
  • Nicole Eisenman at Queer Arts Resource
  • Nicole Eisenman: review at New York Art World (by Donald Goddard, 2004)

21 January 2008

The One We Have

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Peter Barrett, Untitled #7 (2003); acrylic and pencil on paper, 11" x 11"
Click on image to see larger version in a new window.

"As for the existing system, it's the one we have. All markets and societal structures are there to be followed, gamed, ignored, or changed as one is willing or able to do. If my work is less fashionable right now, that still means there are plenty of people who really like it. It also means that it stands a good chance of being more fashionable in the future, especially if I make it as well as I can, and I behave like a professional."
~ Peter Barrett, commenting (#117) on Franklin Einspruch's "Middlemen" post at Artblog.net (19 January 2008)

20 January 2008


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Snowman by Keith Tyson
Click on image to see larger version in a new window.

"Snowmen are the first way in which children come across the idea of human vanitas and impermanence. We live under the myth that if we produce things, they're going to last. When in fact, everything we make is like a snowman -- it's all going to melt in the sun eventually."
~ Keith Tyson

Reinventing the snowman (Guardian Unlimited)

Turner Prize profile (2002): Keith Tyson
Wikipedia: Keith Tyson
Images from Tyson's Large Field Array (at Pace Wildenstein, September-October 2007)

Big Questions

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"Art asks difficult questions."

Can art help people reclaim pride in their area?
Can art kick-start tourism?
Can art unite a community?
Does [art] solve problems or create them?
Does art have to be good for you or your community?
What does that requirement do to the art?
Can art bridge contested spaces?
Can art commemorate and regenerate -- intelligently?
Can art look both ways: past and future?
Is this about nostalgia or a new identity?

~ "Talking point" questions regarding the seven sites selected by the UK's Channel 4 for The Big Art Project.

19 January 2008

Maringka Baker

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Maringka Baker (b. 1951/1953), "Ngura Mankurpa," 2006.
(Click on image to see larger version in a new window)

National Indigenous Art Triennial '07
National Gallery of Australia

18 January 2008


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"The Perfect Future" (1972), by Ralph Gibson
"Photographic technique is no secret and -- provided the interest is there -- easily assimilated. But inspiration comes from the soul and when the Muse isn't around even the best exposure meter is very little help. In their biographies, artists like Michelangelo, da Vinci and Bach said that their most valuable technique was their ability to inspire themselves. This is true of all artists; the moment there is something to say, there becomes a way to say it."
~ Ralph Gibson, Deja-Vu

Start Somewhere

I agree that all art begins with something.

All art begins in seeing.
All art begins with drawing.
all art begins with the proper utensils.
all art begins with a blank page or blank space
All art begins with grids. All artists long for grids.

all art begins with some kind of particular experience.
All art begins with a basic plan or idea,
"All art begins with art education."
All art begins with not knowing.
Art begins with resistance

All art begins with Chaos,
all art begins with a thought.
all art begins with a taking away
Art begins where there is mystery.
Art begins in a wound, an imperfection --

all art begins "in the foul rag and bone shop of the heart."
all Art begins with collaboration and participation.
all art begins with a reference point,
all art begins with imagination;
(All art is "about" relation.)

all art begins in solitude
all art begins in pastiche,
All art begins with reality.
all art begins in abstraction.
All art begins with a concept,

All art begins with the word, "hello."

~ Googled

17 January 2008

Power Itself

"For most of human history, most people could not read at all. Literacy was not only a demarcator between the powerful and the powerless; it was power itself. Pleasure was not an issue. The ability to maintain and understand commercial records, the ability to communicate across distance and in code, the ability to keep the word of God to yourself and transmit it only at your own will and in your own time -- these are formidable means of control over others and aggrandizement of self. Every literate society began with literacy as a constitutive prerogative of the (male) ruling class."
~ Ursula K. Le Guin, from "Staying Awake: Notes on the alleged decline of reading," Harper's Magazine (February 2008)

16 January 2008

Cool Stuff

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Degenerate art
a tabblo* by Eduardo Affonso

Tabblo: "A place to make cool stuff with your photos"

* "A tabblo is a collection of photos and words brought together by a stylized template that can be customized to your heart's content. A tabblo lives at a permanent URL and can be private, accessed by whoever you invite, or public for the whole world to see."

15 January 2008

Headlights on the Highway

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"I hope the next time a person walks into the DMV or the principal’s office, or a police station, they understand how spaces are overtly constructed to socialize, herd, conform, or coax a certain behavior or obedience."
~ photographer Richard Ross (Architecture of Authority), in an interview by Nicole Pasulka at The Morning News


Hipster Bingo


© Murakami
"This acknowledgment of cultural difference does not mitigate the central critique voiced in my previous post, and the danger I see lurking on the horizon: art museums all too willing to signify as theme parks, if not petting zoos."
~ Steven Kaplan commenting (#4) at Artworld Salon


Election 2008 Astrology
"Take a look at the candidates and their astrology for election day and beyond. Perhaps you can find the winner in the stars."

From the profile views alone, it would seem that Barack Obama and Ron Paul hold commanding leads in their respective parties. Interestingly, each is a Leo with Moon in Taurus.

Libra Dennis Kucinich makes a good showing (4th among Democrats), but -- alas -- his Election Day horoscope does not bode well...


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George Eastman House: Photography Collections Online
"A steadily growing digital image sampler and browsing resource for the vast photography holdings of George Eastman House."

Image: László Moholy-Nagy, "The dolls of Oskar Schlemmer's daughters." (1926). Click the image to see a larger version at the Eastman House site.

12 January 2008

The Body

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"Just as with codes of looking, there are 'codes of touching' which vary from culture to culture. A study by [Dean C.] Barnlund in 1975 depicted the various parts of the body which informants in the USA and Japan reported had been touched by opposite-sex friends, same-sex friends, their mother and their father. The resulting body-maps show major differences in cultural norms in this regard, with body areas available for touch being far more restricted in Japan than in the United States. An earlier [1966] study of American students showed differences in the patterns for males and females in the amount of touching of different areas of the body by the various others. The students reported that they had been touched most by their mothers and by friends of the opposite sex; their fathers seldom touched more than their hands."
~ Daniel Chandler, "Semiotics for Beginners"

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"So too, in the midst of what we were given to believe was an AIDS pandemic, the body became a battlefield. Young people, forcibly alienated from their sexuality, began piercing, tattooing, cutting, and scarring their bodies, employing their bodies as a kind of canvas by inscribing on their flesh the deep conflicts of our period having to do with sexuality, gender, disease, and puritanical repression; as if to assert that despite the anti-sexual edicts they still controlled their lives and would do as they choose. And if they piecemeal destroyed their bodies, it was to appropriate the large-scale destruction wrought not just by AIDS but by the AIDS ideology in its attempt to nullify sexuality of any kind outside of marriage."
~ Harold Jaffe, "Outcast Narrative," in Electronic Book Review

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(via Tattoo City)

"How we perform sex, what we feel when we do particular things, depends on our cultural (not national) contexts: how we were taught to do them and by whom, what we were permitted to try out, whether we talked to others about what we were doing and what we wanted. When we engage sexually with others, we learn and teach, we influence each other and change how we do things -- often without knowing it."
~ Laura Agustín, "The Sex in 'Sex Trafficking'," in American Sexuality Magazine

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10 January 2008

Remedios Varo

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Remedios Varo (1908-1963), "Spiral Transit," 1962.
(Click on image to see larger version in a new window)

07 January 2008


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"Rot-Blau-Gelb" ["Red-Blue-Yellow"]: 1972, oil on canvas, 59" x 59"
by Gerhard Richter (b. 1932)
(Click on image to see larger version in a new window)

Beauty in the Ordinary
"Unlike American artists Richter wasn't interested in the purity of art. Idealism had disillusioned him from an early age. Instead he painted images without glory; images that rendered the ridiculous, ordinary; the tragic, ordinary; the beautiful, ordinary. Throughout his career Richter has shrunk from giving a psychological insight into his art, leaving his admirers and critics guessing and at times confused. According to him, his work forms from structures and ideas that surround him, nothing more profound than that."
~ from the biography page of the Gerhard Richter website

06 January 2008

Life Lesson

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"Gravity" (2006, oil on wood panel, 48" x 36")
by Darren Waterston (b. 1965)
(Click on image to see larger version in a new window)

"Just as I'm getting the image down, I feel it can almost slip away into something else instantly. If you turned your head, the painting might just keep evolving. They're very volatile in that way…there's only so much I can do, and then at a point I have to acquiesce. That's the part of the studio practice that for me is always a powerful life lesson."
~ Darren Waterston, from an interview with Jacquelynn Baas on August 18, 2003.

05 January 2008


grat·tage (gră-tazh') n. A surrealist technique in painting in which (usually dry) paint is scraped off the canvas. It was employed by Max Ernst and Joan Miró. [< Fr. "scraping"]

"With Miro's help, Max Ernst pioneered grattage in which he troweled pigment from his canvases." ~ surrealism.org

Examples: Grattage works by Mario Deluigi.

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Mario Deluigi (1901-1978); oil on wood, 1955, 48" x 48"
(Click on image to see larger version in a new window)

"It is not exact: my procedure involves spreading the chromatic values in such a way as to retrieve them when I scrape. So it is not that I go digging for the white, I might find pink, green, black or any other color that I deliberately put there. This is precisely what I do: spread the colors according to a prior chromatic plan, then as a next step, discover the soul of this or that color -- which has a light, one that I must construct -- which is why I cannot make a mark more imposing than that which occurs in the pre-ordained plan." ~ Mario Deluigi

03 January 2008

End of An Era...?

"With Builder in Bankruptcy, Buyers Are Left Out," New York Times (January 3, 2008):
  • "Levitt & Sons, a unit of the Levitt Corporation... ran out of cash in October and declared bankruptcy in November."
  • "The collapse of Levitt, the first big home builder to fail in the current slump, illustrates how the turmoil in real estate is spreading far beyond subprime borrowers who cannot pay their mortgages."
  • "Sixty-one years ago, Levitt began mass-producing homes on a patch of Long Island potato fields. It quickly built tens of thousands of houses in Long Island, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, creating the modern suburb in the process."
  • "William J. Levitt, son of the company founder and chief engine of its success, took the company public in 1960. It was acquired by International Telephone & Telegraph in 1968, and then sold in a court-ordered divestiture three years later. The company went through a succession of owners, relocating to Florida in 1979 and declining into insignificance."
From Wikipedia:
  • "[William] Levitt subsequently lost much of his wealth in unsuccessful investments."
  • "Levittown [NY -- built between 1947 and 1951] was the first truly mass-produced suburb and is widely regarded as the archetype for postwar suburbs throughout the country."
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02 January 2008

Headlights on the Highway

I love the idea, but the instructions crack me up:
"Get Mud. Find or make some mud. I mixed soil and water then beat it with a whisk. Make sure your mud is not watery. It should be about the same consistency as peanut butter."
~ Jesse Graves, Mud Stencils blog, "How To Do It" (via Just Seeds)


Boldest works of art in recent history (from MakeFive): "Every once in a while a new piece of art startles, moves, or makes us simply take notice. I always find it interesting to think of which pieces really break our every day and make us look."
Take a look at the current Top 5. You'll laugh, you'll cry. Or break your every day, anyway...


... But it does seem to support the contention of Guardian Unlimited art-blogger Jonathan Jones:
"Although a critic today might champion certain serious practitioners of art -- a Richard Serra, a Cy Twombly -- that kind of artist is losing out to art that is brighter, louder, closer in sensibility to TV. This decade has seen the end of high art, in that there is no longer any distinction between art and mass entertainment. Art follows the same rules as the fashion industry and has the same clients."

If I read him correctly, Jones regards this as a good thing. Wait till you get to the part where he effuses that Damien Hirst's work "crystallises the deepest human fears and longings with a grandeur and lucidity that eluded 20th-century artists."

Oy. I need to find or make some mud. Surely Jones is overlooking 20th-century masters such as Nudie Cohn, Robert Crumb, and Stanley Mouse.


"[T]here are three classes of men -- lovers of wisdom, lovers of honour, lovers of gain."
~ Plato, The Republic


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Luis Barragán's Gilardi House (Tacubaya, Mexico City); photo by
Armando Salas Portugal, © Barragán Foundation

"Art is made by the alone for the alone."
~ Luis Barragán, as quoted by Robert Adams in Why People Photograph

Even better with pickled shark!

01 January 2008

Beyond Modernism

From Lee Siegel's "The Blush of the New" (a review of Peter Gay's Modernism: The Lure of Heresy from Baudelaire to Beckett and Beyond), NYT Sunday Book Review, 12/30/07:

We have exhausted Romantic individualism, and we have twisted the uniquely individual, modernist escape from the self into "self-expression."

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"99 Cent," chromogenic color print by Andreas Gursky (1999).

Expression is everywhere nowadays, but true art has grown indistinct and indefinable.

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"Iraq Female Mujahadeen," by Scott Nelson, WPN (Baghdad, 2004)

We seem now to be living in a world where everyone has an artistic temperament -- emotive and touchy, cold and self-obsessed -- yet few people have the artistic gift.

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"Ecataepec," C-print by Scott Peterman (Mexico City, 2006)

We are all outsiders, and we are all living in our own truth.

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"A US soldier swims in the south fork of the Euphrates River,
Ar Ramadi," by Joel Preston Smith; from Night of a Thousand
Stars and Other Portraits of Iraq

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