The Welch Brothers, Jeremiah Allen Welch and Gabriel Welch, are an artist duo living and working in San Francisco. The Welch Brothers were born in Visalia, CA into an artistic family. Their father was a muralist and sign painter and their mother and oldest sister started a clowning business. As children, sketchbooks, legos and costumes from their family’s clowning business supplied an endless amount of entertainment. Although the two brothers took time to cultivate their own unique styles, they would often work together throughout the course of their lives. Their individual styles combine seamlessly to create works unlike anything else that has been seen in the past. From impressionistic animals to abstract worlds that look as though they could be created with computers, The Welch Brothers continue to push the boundaries of traditional art. They have struck out on a grand adventure together with no path to follow, paving a walkway into the unknown.
This work is a part of the “Unbound: Contemporary Art after Frida Kahlo” exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago). On the caption to the photo is said the work encourages the viewer to consider the ways in which gender is a performance. I thought that was so interesting. It had never occurred to me that we are choosing to perform gender, but it seems very true.
Overall, the exhibit was small but provocative. I never realized how ahead of her time Frida was when in came to thinking about gender representations. She was a feminist before feminism existed.
“You won’t allow me to go to school.
I won’t become a doctor.
One day you will be sick.”
— Poem written by an 11 year old Afghan girl
This poem was recorded in a NYT magazine article about female underground poetry groups in Afghanistan. An amazing article about the ways in which women are using a traditional two line poetry form to express their resistance to male oppression, their feelings about love (considered blasphemous), and their doubts about religion.
I stumbled upon this documentary on iTunes. It was beautiful, tragic, and heartbreaking. I can’t recommend it enough.
While watching, I was reminded how exploitation is almost always justified by classifying the oppressed as a dehumanized “other”. I thought about this a lot while watching “12 Years a Slave”, where we see slaveowners and traders justify their economic interests with the bogus claim that African Americans were somehow subhuman. (The irony of this film is that it is the slaveowners themselves who become monsters in their attempts to dehumanize others).
"Who is Dayani Cristal" documents the ways in which the United States government dehumanizes undocumented immigrants (we label them "Illegal" so that the deaths of thousands attempting to cross the Arizona desert are viewed as a crime rather than a humanitarian concern). Again, the dehumanization of a group of "others" serves our economic interests. We benefit from a cheap labor supply, while denying undocumented workers basic rights. It may not be slavery, but there are some eerie similarities.
"Who is Dayani Cristal" asserts the truth that there is no "other". On both sides of every border, there are only human beings. The film introduces us to the story of just one migrant who died trying to cross the Arizona desert. Through the story of this man, we are reminded that each unidentified body in the desert is a human being, someone whose death creates “a wound that will never heal” (to quote Dayani’s wife) in the lives of his family.
Both the creation and the act of watching a film of this type are important. In doing so, we insist on recognizing the undeniable humanity of the oppressed, and are forced to acknowledge the brutality and unjustifiable-ness of our economic system.