Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Ol’ Robbo, despite the fact that he finds himself fighting a stomach bug, is still reveling this evening after yesterday’s slayfest. As Mr. Rogers would put it, “Can you say “repudiation”? Sure, I knew you could!”
Perhaps apropos, this evening I was flipping idly through one of the Dee Cee glossies that periodically show up in the Port Swiller mailbox (totally unbidden, I may say) when I came across a bit about a new art exhibit down the National Mall entitled “Out of Many, One”. Allow The Smithsonian to explain:
Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada is a big artist with big ideas. Standing a wiry 6-foot-5, he is rethinking the concept of portraiture: Instead of capturing an individual on canvas, he portrays universal man in giant “face-scapes” tilled into the ground.
“I want to expand the idea of what a portrait is,” says Kim Sajet, the director of the Portrait Gallery, who sought out the artist after seeing his earth portrait of a girl in Belfast. “The Portrait Gallery commissions paintings, video, photography and drawings all the time. This is about pushing the boundaries of portraiture outside the walls of the museum.”
In late summer, Rodríguez-Gerada was preparing to construct his portrait of an anonymous male on five acres of prime parkland between the Lincoln Memorial and the World War II Memorial. Titled Out of Many, One, it presents a single face that is a composite of 50 men between the ages of 18 and 24, both Anglo and African-American. The artist picked them pretty much at random in Washington, D.C., photographed them and selected elements of each face—“the glint of an eye, edge of a mouth, someone’s lip texture”—for an image he created using Photoshop. Then he turned that image into a line drawing.
The rest of the article discusses the technical aspects of transposing such a line drawing into a massive, multi-acre, artistic tilling. As a matter of fact, I find the process to be rayther impressive, at least from a mechanical point of view. (On the other hand, I have very little time for anything that smells of a “stunt”, so there’s that. Christo, anyone?)
However, let’s have a look at the actual product, shall we? You tell me whether this actually is an “anonymous male” created out of random photographs, or else is yet one more example of an all-too-familiar image:
Granted, ol’ Robbo may be being a bit paranoid here, but if so, I have good reason. There is no place, NO place, for a cult of personality in a healthy, functioning Republic founded on the Rule of Law.
Going back again to yesterday, I’m hoping that people are finally waking up to this.