Sunday, October 22, 2006

UCLA Hammer Museum: Walead Beshty

UCLA Hammer Museum: Walead Beshty: "The issue is not to “document” them, to use photographs to simulate a faux transparency, but to expand the indeterminacy to the act of viewing. Most of the spaces we operate in are marginal or indeterminate in this way; these extreme examples help me understand the conflicted identity of the spaces we tacitly agree are concrete and stable. Pictures make things appear stable; one way to get at this issue is to make photographs that attempt to deal with their own instability, not just to claim them as fiction or fact, but to see their meaning in the fantasies they engender, to accept this without sleepwalking through it.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Photos and a Fair Trial - New York Times

a times editorial on a curious case of photography (maybe) swaying a jury.

Photos and a Fair Trial - New York Times: "When Mathew Musladin went on trial for murder, members of the victim’s family sat near the jury every day wearing buttons with the dead man’s photograph. A federal appeals court held that those buttons in the courtroom deprived Mr. Musladin of a fair trial. The Supreme Court is hearing arguments in his case today. It should affirm the appeals court’s ruling.

Mr. Musladin shot his estranged wife’s fianc�in an altercation that he argued was justifiable self-defense. Before the trial began, Mr. Musladin’s lawyer asked the judge to tell the family to remove the buttons. Mr. Musladin was convicted on all counts.

Mr. Musladin went to federal court to argue that he had been denied a fair trial. The San Francisco-based United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit agreed, holding that the jury’s sympathies may have been unfairly swayed by the photos of the victim worn by his grieving relatives.

The court relied on a Supreme Court ruling that a defendant’s right to a fair trial was denied when he was forced to wear prison garb and shackles in sight of the jury, with its subliminal message of guilt. It also relied on its own earlier decision that a defendant in a sexual assault case was denied a fair trial when courtroom spectators were allowed to wear buttons proclaiming “Women Against Rape.”

As those cases recognized, physical materials in a courtroom that send a message run the risk of prejudicing the jury against the defendant.

At Mr. Musladin’s trial, the key question was whether he or the man who died was the aggressor. As the appeals court recognized, the buttons were effectively an argument by the people who wore them that the dead man was the victim. The correct place for that argument to be made was on the witness stand, by competent and duly sworn witnesses. It should not have been allowed from the audience.

The most difficult legal issue in the case involves the standard that federal courts use in second-guessing state court convictions. Under the relevant federal statute, the state court’s decision can be set aside only if it was an unreasonable application of “clearly established” federal law. The government argues that the appeals court’s ruling that the photographs were prejudicial was not clearly established.

It is true the Supreme Court has not ruled directly on the issue of photographs worn by courtroom spectators. But the court’s decision in the prison garb case laid down a standard clear enough for the trial judge to have known that the buttons worn at Mr. Musladin’s trial denied him his constitutional rights."

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Jimmy Durham: now we can begin to be more seriously confused!

Matt's Gallery: "Since moving to Europe from Mexico in 1994, Durham has concentrated on the problems of belief and monumentalism in art and has worked against architecture. Durham has said, �Now we can begin, it seems to me, to be more seriously confused, to be more profoundly confused than we were before, especially if we can make a final break within the heroic project of art and architecture.’"

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Jeremy Deller - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jeremy Deller - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "He is currently involved in a touring exhibit of contemporary British folk art, in collaboration with Alan Kane.

Much of Dellers work is collaborative and raises questions about ownership. For example, how does a privately educated London boy successfully represent the 'Battle of Orgreave'? By acting as a channel for the experience of the people, rather than impressing his art practice or personality upon the situation. This gives his work a political element, not just in the subjects dealt with, but in the questioning of artist as creative ego (which essentially is individualist and capitalist in nature). Value is questioned by touring 'peoples art', with Folk Archive, which is outside of the contemporary art institution. Much of Dellers work also avoids commodification by its empheral nature."

Sunday, October 01, 2006

When Soldiers Go to War, Flat Daddies Hold Their Place at Home - New York Times

When Soldiers Go to War, Flat Daddies Hold Their Place at Home - New York Times: "The Maine National Guard is giving life-size from-the-waist-up pictures of soldiers to the families of deployed guard members. Guard officials and families say the cutouts, known as Flat Daddies or Flat Soldiers, connect families with a relative who is thousands of miles away. The Flat Daddies are toted everywhere from soccer practice to coffee shops to weddings.

“The response has been unbelievable,” said Sgt. First Class Barbara Claudel, director of the Maine National Guard’s family unit. “The families just miss people so much when they’re gone that they try to bring their soldier everywhere.”"