Saturday, September 28, 2013

15 Hoods, Redux

15 Hoods, ©2013

The premier of 15 Hoods went very well.  Despite the event coinciding with Yom Kippur, we seemed to have plenty of people in the studio and throughout the Bakehouse as well.  Both the photo and the installation drew favorable responses from visitors and three inquiries for possible future shows.  Not bad, I think.

The photo, shown above, is about 30x40 inches as currently displayed.  However, because each portrait is a distinct image ranging from 10 to 12 megapixels after cropping, the image should be indefinitely scalable.  Projection on the side of a building anyone?

The models in the photo range in age from toddler to middle age, male and female and yes, the guy second from the right in the lower row is me.  The idea of the piece was to render 15 nearly identical images in black & white, except the middle image which is clearly identifiable as a young African American male and is rendered in full color.  Essentially, each of us can look nefarious in a hoodie under the right conditions but society's attention is still drawn to the black male above all others.

Along with the piece, the installation also included out-takes and informal portraits of the models intended to show that they are really just people in hoods and that at heart we are all the same. Rounding out the installation is a series of images from the vigil for Trayvon Martin at the Torch of Friendship earlier this year.

The installation will remain on exhibit through October, 2013 in the Bakehouse Art Complex, Studio 3U and by private viewing by appointment.

Monday, September 2, 2013

15 Hoods

Background shot from the 15 Hoods photo shoot

Immediately after the story broke, I remember feeling a sense of surprise and indignation that the Sanford Police let George Zimmerman go without much thought based on Florida's "Stand Your Ground Law."  I felt that they, at least, ought to have asked the simple question, Which of these two actually stood his ground and confronted an attacker?  Was it the older man who acted against the direct instructions of a police dispatcher or the young man who was being stalked by a "creep" in an SUV?  At the very least, I thought the SPD should have referred the case to the State Attorney's Office, if for nothing else then just for CYA purposes.

That surprise, however, was nothing compared to the surprise I felt when the Special Prosecutor filed charges of second degree murder against Zimmerman in the absence of much supporting evidence and absolutely no witnesses or apparent motive.  Being legally trained, I felt the better charge, the sustainable and provable charge would have been manslaughter.  It also had the added benefit of comporting with the provable facts.

When the jury returned its verdict, I felt justice had not been served but that they had nonetheless rendered the legally correct decision.  In computing, there's an axiom: GIGO, garbage in, garbage out. You can't blame the computer if you ask it the wrong question or ask the right question but in the wrong manner. Similarly, you can't really blame the jury if you've asked it the wrong question and given it no option but to return a bad answer.

I wasn't surprised, but like many, I was disappointed.

I was, however, very surprised at the steps the right-wing corporate media took to legitimate the shooting by demonizing an article of clothing, the hoodie.  Most infamous in this regard is Geraldo Rivera who is quoted in The Huffington Post as saying that "hoodies reminded people of criminals like the Unabomber and thus put (the wearer) in danger".

I must confess, I have long since stopped watching or reading the right-wing corporate media.  While Faux News is the worst offender, in my opinion, the so-called mainstream media are little more than stenographers to power.  Still, using this article of clothing in order to legitimate the death of a young man who was doing little more than walking in a neighborhood that he had every right to be in was a new low, even by today's debased media standards.  It's as if none of the so-called reporters have children who wear hoodies.  Seriously, don't they know any seventeen-year-olds?

And so was born my idea of 15 Hoods.

15 Hoods is both an image and an installation.  The image, consisting of 15 portraits of people wearing hoods, will be shown for the first time on September 13, 2013 at the Bakehouse Art Complex, in my Studio, 3U on the second floor.  As an installation, it will also feature background images, outtakes and a separate set on the Vigil for Trayvon held at the Torch of Friendship in Miami.

If you find yourself in Miami that evening and do not have to attend Yom Kippur services, I hope you will consider attending.