Remnants of the Human Condition

Human Condition: “the characteristics, key events, and situations which compose the essentials of human existence… such as birth, growth, conflict, and mortality… including religion, philosophy, history, art, and sociology.”

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I was personally invited by one of the curators to view Remnants of the Human Condition. You know, all exclu xclu (pronounced: ex(s)klOO skloo) style in my business inbox. What?! So I had to go. The synopsis was intriguing: (Joseph) Guay’s thought-provoking exhibit will examine the characteristics, events and situations that encompass human existence, such as birth, growth, conflict and mortality. “Remnants of the Human Condition” will explore the difficult topics in the media that attempt to sum up the human condition and will allow the audience to experience a differing visual approach that will broaden their views and beliefs. source

Most of the pieces were meticulously made from bullets, casings, gun powder, motor oil and glass-something my eyes had never seen. Just more proof that art is everything and anything can be made into art, right. I appreciate Guay’s efforts and the attention he’s bringing to certain issues, but I don’t think he quite gets it. In his statement, he does make some great points, but it goes much much deeper than “civilians” getting their hands on military grade weapons + ammunition. It’s more than a question of who should own guns. His exhibition highlighted shooting murders by cops as well as civilians, yet most of the victims depicted are Black [with the exception of Sandy Hook, which to me, is unbelievable]. Yet this significant detail was not once mentioned in his statement. The skin color and ethnic makeup of the shooting victims were never mentioned actually.

Maybe that was my bad, attending a show with the pre/misconception of an artist who, although not Black himself,  I thought was an ally or at least believed that these murderers should be called out on their acts of terrorism. A man who felt the need to probe not only the reality that we are disproportionately attacked + executed, but why.

Silly me.

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The show was interesting. Major visual appeal. The depiction of Trayvon with a head of Skittles facing a wall of black hoodies-the center hoodie in a crucified position- was quite haunting. And it always makes my heart sink thinking of this boy’s senseless murder. After learning of Guay’s vision and journey to create these works, I was a bit disappointed to learn that yes, he is an artist whose art reflects the times, but still doesn’t quite understand, or fails to state that he understands, that Black people and other people of color are under attack. Under attack by people that look like him, people that look like me, strangers, cops, and familiars alike. From every direction. Every day.

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In Guay’s statement, he says he would just like people to expand whatever perspective they already have and truly think about the issues at hand. I hope he heeds his own hopes and continues to learn about the genocide of the victims he spotlights in his work.

 

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46 thoughts on “Remnants of the Human Condition

  1. As you mentioned about his art, it really is stunning and such a talent to be able to depict an abstract idea into something physical, and not only that, but visually appealing. I know some artists try to take a broad look at any idea, but as you said, he doesn’t get it. Not fully, anyway. You can’t talk about our human condition without talking about the color me bad racism in our world. It’s like talking about a person with half truths. A half truth is still a whole lie. Or maybe he thought omitting that would make the piece less of a political statement – directing it to more of the human condition, rather than to further cut open a festering wound to talk about the reckless, belligerent, ignorant people who scatter black lives like chicken feed. But again…how can you state one bit, without the other? There’s two sides of a coin, not one.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. You said it. I think he was trying to be less political in his delivery but the art itself is already such a statement, why would he scale back on the intent? It’s too late in the game to pacify and sugarcoat things just to get higher viewer likability.

      Thank you for your spot on comment.

      Liked by 4 people

  2. I got chills reading this and the good chills. I get what you are saying 100%, Ms. Suede. You appreciate the artists vision but you felt like the execution of his plan was a Lil off due to him not being a person of color. I guess it’s a black thing, right? Because when people try and highlight things that are black issues who are not Black, as black people our antennas are up already. I don’t personally think this was any culture vulturing going on here but more of a humane or moral thing. This is art and I’m glad you shared it. I’m also glad you saw a different point of view

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you.

      And you’re absolutely right. I don’t think he’s a vulture, not at all, just a little lost on the root of the topic. I would have felt the same if he was Black and failed to mention that most of the victims were Black/of color. It may be denial or pure ignorance. Either way, I appreciate what he’s shared.

      Liked by 2 people

        1. I think you think he’s capitalizing from our detriment without acknowledging our detriment? Like police violence is solely a Black thing? If not, please explain.

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          1. Maybe I didn’t get his whole message. But I seen how you guys were giving him props for bringing these issues to the forefront. To me he isn’t bringing anymore attention to them then there already is. But I have to re-read yours and his post to see what I am missing.

            Liked by 1 person

  3. “In Guay’s statement, he says he would just like people to expand whatever perspective they already have and truly think about the issues at hand. I hope he heeds his own hopes and continues to learn about the genocide of the victims he spotlights in his work.”
    We can only hope so.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Maybe this is the beginning of his consciousness. I understand what you’re saying, but I’ve found that consciousness is a spectrum, and not all of us are at the same point. Hope that makes sense. And I do hope that he continues his own path. The exhibit looks amazing and has huge potential to create new thoughts about important issues.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Yes, hopefully. And that makes sense to me. To even care to bring some of these issues to the forefront, he’s saying a lot.

      I’m curious to what his statement might be a year from now, or five. From what I’ve seen, he can only go up and I look forward to seeing the progression.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. That Trayvon exhibit has me speechless. Absolutely beautiful! I am glad there are artists who are doing something, anything, to expose the grim realities we are facing. His statement could have been more explicit and I would problematize the silences around some of this stuff – but I wonder : is a partial analysis better than nothing at all?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It is! And like Dr. Garland said, hopefully this is just the beginning of his awakening. And if so, he can only rise upward from here. We’re in for a treat if this is Guay sticking his big toe in the kiddie pool.

      I am only critical because I admire a dive into the deep end with no life jacket type fearlessness. An artist should be fearless taking on the weight of such a heavy subject.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. “I admire a dive into the deep end with no life jacket type fearless”. That was fire!! That line warrants a piece all of its own!

        I couldn’t agree more. When facing a structure of oppression, now is not the time to be timid and walk on egg shells. We need bravery. Such a project is not for the faint hearted.

        Liked by 2 people

          1. It was a celebration of Black love + unity. There were local vendors, drummers, food, dancing, motivational speakers, demonstrations, a kids’ corner for the little ones. Did I mention food?? Just an all day love fest 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

          2. Word, like what? I have had a lot of trouble finding some serious black unity around these parts. Certainly doesn’t help that the property values are high + gentrifying even more. I imagine the feel is different down where you are

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          3. I’ve heard Boston is a very white and unfriendly city that I should not bother visiting.

            Atlanta is definitely changing. One particular area that I love, the West End, is being gentrified. I don’t live anywhere near it but I admire my people that do are fighting to keep it. It’s amazing that the city can clean up streets and fix potholes so quickly when white people start moving in + complaining.

            I’ve lived in a few other cities, but there is more Black love here than I’ve ever seen [outside of my family] in my life. It’s definitely inspiring.

            Liked by 1 person

          4. You heard right about Boston. It is profoundly fast paced and insensitive. I despise it. Do not bother visiting, but by all means, if you do, let me know so we can chop it up!

            I admire the folks fighting to preserve their neighborhoods too! That is the only way black culture can stay alive … as white folks use every trick in the book to eradicate and displace us. You are right – the City is quick to cater to white needs. You always know an area is gentrifying when you see those boojie coofee shops with free wifi and bicycle paths popping up

            Liked by 1 person

          5. Right! When the bomb chicken spot turns into a pet groomer, we have a problem!

            From a friend who visited, I heard Boston is pretty, but the other factors kill all my desire to make that trip. As a local, thanks for the confirmation.

            Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for stopping by my blog. It brought me to yours and the opportunity to read this post. I would love to have gone to see that. In my opinion, some artists create art beyond their understanding and that seems to be the case here.

    I have a story that I tell people who are ignorant, sometimes willfully, to the fact that there is a vast difference in behavior toward different races.

    There was an experiment done quite sometime ago. A young white student carrying a backpack walked down the street. He was never question or even looked at by the police or any other person of authority. They then gave the same young man a pigment change to turn his skin dark. Same clothes, same backpack, same walk down the street. And yet, the police stopped him to question where he was going, what he was doing, and why he was at that location. This is a blatant example of how how much racism is imbedded in the culture and how most people aren’t even aware that they are acting in a racist and disrespectful manner!

    Another example is in the news. If we hear about some criminal activity they will say something like “a black man…” But do you ever hear them say “a white man…”? Seriously, what does their skin have to do with anything in the news? Isn’t it better just to say “a man ( or woman) did…”? Sadly I have a little faith that this will change in my lifetime.

    Thank you for talking about this. Not only is your opinion relevant and spot on but also written in such an eloquent manner. I look forward to future posts!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for tuning in, Lexy! I appreciate your honest feedback.
      These scenarios perfectly exemplify the DAILY racism toward Blacks + those of a darker hue. The ones that don’t fit the status quo. The huge elephant needs to be addressed! Hopefully Guay learns and grows from this.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Wow, Kelley, this has been a fabulous article. The art show looks great, and your descriptions help me see it better. Your commentary is piquing.
    The best, though, is the discussion you have evoked. I read all the comments and replies. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The art is eye-catching but I totally understand why you were underwhelmed by the artist’s explanation of the exhibition. It kind of makes the exhibition more exploitative to me.

    Liked by 1 person

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