Follow the river to its source
These pieces Follow the River to its Source, relate to the origins of modern capitalism and the way in which the evolution of this system from feudal Europe to the present day has shaped history. From motivating colonialism, to being responsible for environmental destruction, to altering the very way we as human beings value certain people, institutions and nations. The shape of these pieces is a reference to the feudalistic hierarchy that is mirrored by our financial hierarchies. The blend of images in varying styles utilises the Sergei Eisenstein principle of intellectual montage, attempting to evoke a mental image response for the viewer. While the title: Follow the River to its Source, is a statement about the way in which, once a problem in our society is found the origin of the issue usually relates to a profit motivation.
The First in the series titled The Black Venus and shows the causation through colonialism, a financially motivated enterprise, of racial thinking. A means of justifying the subjugation of people based on the colour of their skin, the practical application of this had already been perfected in feudal Europe where social hierarchies had been utilised as ways of extracting capital. The piece features a base comprised of the columns and statues of ancient Greece and Rome holding up the eras of Medieval europe the strength of these solid forms then transitioning into the strengthened armoured bodies of colonialists such as Cortez, Pizzaro and Columbus. Above them a myriad of peoples from North America, Africa and The Pacific behind them, trees cut down mirroring the exploitation of Native bodies. Continuing to the summit of the piece the levels include: jungle with divisions cut through representing borders and land allotment, images of the founding fathers of the United States above them Corn showing the debt owed by any civilisation to the ground on which it lies. Finally sprouting forth from this are the institutions on which capitalist societies rely the bank, the church and the parliament all merging into one edifice represented by the modern "sky scraper".
The continuation of the Follow the River to its Source series, the second piece The Great White Father, once again tracks capitalism's evolution from the taxation of the people under the roman empire, through the feudalism of the Norman conquerors in France and England. To the bolstering of the economic power in city states of the Renaissance, to the spread of capitalism to the new world in the 15th century and the devastating impact there after. This time the narrative tracks up the centre piece of a crucifix, symbolising the role of Judeo-Christian religion on the psychology of white European colonialists and the impact this had on their interaction with, and persecution of, the people of the americas. Behind the figures of "Plains Indians" are outlines of long grass, referencing both the terms of treaties stating promises lasting, "as long as the grass grows" and the righteousness of Christian, white men as deserving inheritors, not care takers of the earth and its people. This drawing also includes collaged elements, a page from a school text book about normans and a dollar bill showing the President Andrew Jackson. The man responsible for the Indian Removal act, one of the worst legalisations of genocide not only in American History but also in global history. The fact Jackson's image resides on the dollar bill which also boast the line: "In god we trust" perfectly illustrates the interrelation of power, faith and money. The United States perhaps more than any other country illustrates the formation of a modern Kleptocracy, this is shown in this piece through the selection of images in and above the cross bar of the crucifix. The white cotton bolls function not only as a reference to the previous piece, filling in for the "Founding Fathers" but also referencing the agrarian economy of pre-industrial United states and its reliance on slavery. The destruction of Americas environment due to the mindset of post enlightenment Christian thinking is also drawn to mind. Not only by the cotton but by the robber barons that inherit the role of kings in the centre column of the piece. The faces of J.P Morgan, J.D Rockefella and Andrew Carnegie merge into the modern holders of power. Trump photographed with Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon as well as the heads of Apple and Microsoft.
The last in the Follow the River to its Source series Neocolonialism concerns itself with the transition from the Colonialism of the 1500's-1900's to the Neocolonialism of the modern post-industrial era. Still perpetrated in the same countries by companies still seeking to exploit the natural resources and cheap labour pervasive in countries such as The Democratic Republic of the Congo. The piece eludes to this transition through the inclusion of portraits of perpetrators, from the foreign backed dictators of the 50's 60's and 70's to the western leaders like Tony Blair. Whose prosecution and subsequent profiteering of the Iraq War is a blatant example of the worst excesses of the crimes still inflicted on "developing" countries by those in the west. Once again I have used varied styles of drawing and collage to add to the configuration of the completed piece. A page from Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States includes quotation from Las Casas regarding the violence of colonialism in the Caribbean, it appears between two statues by Michelangelo. Creating a juxtaposition between the sacred space in which the renaissance is held in the western tradition as a time of proto-enlightenment and the violence and exploitation on which it was based. The statues chosen include David representing War, a Pieta representing Christianity, Moses with horns representing the history of separation of peoples and Giuliano Di Lorenzo de Medici representing money and subsequently power. Most troubling of all however could be the slave, a part of the Tomb to another medici, his suffering eternally immortalised, holding forever the weight of the tomb of his owner. Once again this piece contains varied images of peoples subjected to the pains of colonialism, either exploitative or invasive. The ghostly faces of figures that tried to resist these torments are also included in the form of Thomas Sankara of Burkina Faso, Empresses Dowager Cixi of China and Chief Jospeh of the Nez Perce. Above them and clearer (in reference to euro-centric teaching) are the portraits of Leopold of Belgium, George V of Great Britain and Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany. They support the image of Cecil Rhodes, taken from the E.L Sambourne image of "The Rhodes Colossus" first published in 1892. This time Rhodes is depicted over an enormous Cobalt mine in front of an iphone, a message about how little difference there is between the colonialism of the past and the corporate colonialism of the present.