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the work of history

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    integreatshun:

    unhistorical:

    What Photographers Of The LA Riots Really Saw Behind The Lens

    On April 29, 1992, a Los Angeles court found four police officers not guilty in the brutal beating of black motorist Rodney King. Within hours, the city was on fire, and it burned for days, becoming a defining moment for black resistance and the long, dark history of race in America […]

    The dark history of race is one that will always be present, as long as communities threaten, burn, vandalize, rape, and shoot up it’s neighborhoods in “protest.” 
    Destroying property isn’t a protest, it’s an attack. You can’t have your cake and eat it, too.

    Block me bitch


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    Happy birthday, the legend Stevie Wonder.
    (b. May 13, 1950)


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    Happy Birthday, Stevie Wonder (b. May 13, 1950)

    Music is a world within itself
    With a language we all understand
    With an equal opportunity
    For all to sing, dance and clap their hands
    But just because a record has a groove
    Don’t make it in the groove
    But you can tell right away at letter A
    When the people start to move


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    “The Curses” (on blues music), John Jeremiah Sullivan.


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    May 30, 1431: Joan of Arc is burned at the stake.

    Like Jesus Christ before and Kurt Cobain after her, Joan of Arc the mythic figure precedes by many steps her historical counterpart. Historians agree on the fundamental(s): She was a peasant girl who played some role in fighting the English during the Hundred Years’ War, and then the mythical Joan emerges at the suture where sparse historical fact and the legend that eclipses it pull together an image of the saint. So the mythistory goes, Joan conversed with angels and dead saints and, divinely inspired, led French military campaigns to triumph in the name of God and Charles VII during the war before being captured by a pro-English French faction. The Dauphin was crowned, but Joan was convicted of heresy (as evidenced by her sorcery and male clothing) and burned, aged nineteen, at the stake. Twenty-five years later her name was cleared; five hundred years after that the martyr Joan became Saint Joan, and in between the European Romantics drew on her story and image for inspiration.  

    The immortalized Jeanne, like Jesus, has maintained a certain allure over centuries to Western creatives and politicians alike. And there are many claimants to her myth. Lush 19th-century paintings of the wide-eyed maiden warrior, whether encased in armor or white dress set ablaze, emphasize her goodness, duty, and martyrdom. Romanticism and European nationalisms historically went hand in hand, of course, but in these works she exists on a more divine plane than that of street-level political struggle. Later on, Latin American groups both on the Left and Right, from Mexican soldaderas to Brazilian nationalist reactionaries, claimed Joan of Arc for any number of her endless virtues. Only one in a long line of woman leaders to have drawn comparison, former Brazilian president and guerrilla leader (somewhat like Joan herself) Dilma Rousseff was once branded the “Joan of Arc of the guerrillas” by a martial prosecutor. Whether this was begrudging praise or meant to insult only further obscures Joan’s modern meanings. Modern feminist movements and the feminist-minded are drawn either to her revolutionary fervor, or to her psyche, for embodying the misunderstanding and hysteria that seem to define postmodern womanhood.

    On the other hand, consider Joan’s recent cameo in a presidential campaign ad of National Front candidate and right-wing heroine Marine Le Pen. In this brief shot a statue of Joan atop her horse rides in full armor to confront France’s enemies, be they enemies across the Channel or the Mediterranean. The camera venerates Joan, and Le Pen declares herself “truly, proudly, faithfully, obviously French.” One need not understand the annals of 15th century European warfare and political diplomacy to understand Joan here, reduced - plate with no filigree - and then elevated in this simplest of incarnations: defender of France against foreign hordes of insignificantly inexact origin, waging a war of irrelevant context.

    Le Pen would cast herself in the same stripped-down mold: she is by her followers’ estimations steely and capable, and ready to go to war. Unlike other famous female leaders in history, she is not genderless but wishes to govern France like a tough mother. Both Le Pen and Joan’s modern young female adherents, with whom Le Pen would not otherwise overlap much politically, both agree then - Joan was a great woman. As far as nationalist symbols and heroes go, there is a French delicacy to this imagining of a crossdressing teenage girl as national savior against barbaric outside threat. (French civilizing colonialism, too, was refined; in Gillo Pontecorvo’s The Battle of Algiers, French colonial military forces carry out an operation to root out and destroy Algerian rebels which they codename “Champagne.”)

    Le Pen and others on the French right-wing’s enchantment with - and possessive claim on - the powerful, malleable symbolism of Joan far predates the ad. For one, Le Pen once staged a speech in front of a similar (possibly the very same) statue years before the most recent French presidential campaign began. Even in her own time, Joan and her victories helped to nurture the nascent French nation as much as it could be said to have existed in the 1400s, though her place in this narrative obviously amplified as a coherent national fervor flared further over the course of the 19th century. 

    Carl Theodor Dreyer, who directed Joan’s most famous celluloid dramatization The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928), was neither Catholic nor French but Danish. This was not a petty biographical detail to the French nationalists who objected to his helming a film on the very great and very French saint; it was, rather, a cultural insult. Dreyer, on his part, captured both the plain peasant and posthumously divine Joan. His film introduces her as “not the military genius who inflicted on the enemy defeat after defeat, but a simple and natural young girl;” however, the film eventually concludes on the familiar mythic note:

    As the sun went down Joan’s heart was sunk in the river, the heart which from that time became the heart of France, just as she herself was the incarnation of the eternal France.


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    A Bigger Splash, 1967


    No Splash (after David Hockney’s A Bigger Splash, 1967), 2013


    Portrait of Nick Wilder, 1966


    Portrait of a Pool Cleaner (after David Hockney’s Portrait of Nick Wilder, 1966), 2014


    Beverly Hills Housewife, 1966


    Beverly Hills Housekeeper (after David Hockney’s Beverly Hills Housewife, 1966), 2014


    American Collectors (Fred and Marcia Weisman), 1968


    American Gardeners (after David Hockney’s American Collectors (Fred and Marcia Weisman), 1968), 2014


    Peter Getting Out of Nick’s Pool, 1966


    Nick’s Pool Being Cleaned (after David Hockney’s Peter Getting Out of Nick’s Pool, 1966), 2013

    Gomez’s acrylic on canvas paintings use David Hockney’s iconic 60s Southern California scenes as a jumping off point, interrupting the original compositions with the introduction of Latino domestic workers into the works. 

    Ramiro Gomez
    Hockney Series, 2013-2014


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    Dorothea Lange
    “Migratory Cotton Picker, Eloy, Arizona” 1940

    MOMA


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    All attempted revivals of Spanish folkways in Southern California are similarly ceremonial and ritualistic, a part of the sacred rather than the profane life of the region. The 3,279 Mexicans who live in Santa Barbara are doubtless more bewildered by these annual Spanish hijinks than any other group in the community. For here is a community that generously and lavishly supports the ‘Old Spanish Fiesta’ - and the wealth of the rancheros visitadores is apparent for all to see - but which consistently rejects proposals to establish a low-cost-housing project for its Mexican residents.

    The residents of Santa Barbara firmly believe, of course, that the Spanish past is dead, extinct, vanished… the Mexicans living in Santa Barbara have no connection with this past. They just happen to be living in Santa Barbara. To be sure, many of them have names, such as Cota or Gutierrez, that should stir memories of the dolce far niente period. But these names are no longer important. They belong to the profane, and happily forgotten, side of the tradition.

    The sacred side of this tradition, as represented in the beautifully restored Mission, is worshipped by all alike… The restored Mission is a much better, a less embarrassing, symbol of the past than the Mexican field worker or the ragamuffin pachucos of Los Angeles.



    - “The Growth of a Legend,” Southern California Country: An Island on the Land, Carey McWilliams, 1946. 

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    [Lisbet Tellefsen]’s light-filled studio fairly brims with images of Angela, which stare back at you on everything from protest art to newspaper clippings, all of which are obsessively organized. Tellefsen has so many posters of Angela Davis, she gives them their own informal classifications. For example, there are examples in which Angela appears almost angelic, what Tellefsen calls the “black is beautiful” posters. “They were produced by the black community, for the black community,” she says. “It was really about the promotion of her image as a strong black sister.”

    Trailing Angela Davis, from FBI Flyers to ‘Radical Chic’ Art


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    The Color Curtain: A Report on the Bandung Conference, Richard Wright, 1956. 

    In 1955, Wright traveled to Bandung, Indonesia in order to cover the first Afro–Asian Conference, which brought together twenty-nine African and Asian nations whose populations collectively constituted over half of that of the entire world at the time (including much of what would soon be widely termed the ‘Third World’). He described the meeting as one of “the underdogs of the human race… class and racial and religious consciousness on a global scale.” 


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    June 4, 1975: The California Agricultural Labor Relations Act is passed.

    The landmark California Agricultural Labor Relations Act (ALRA), at least in its own terms, sought “to provide for collective-bargaining rights for agricultural employees;” it was thereafter to be official state policy to “encourage and protect the right of agricultural employees to full freedom of association, self-organization, and designation of representatives of their own choosing.” It was not, in spite of such glowing language, an affirmative gift bestowed upon the downtrodden, but rather a compromise emerging out of decades of labor strife.

    The ALRA explicitly covered a vast swath of workers which the old New Deal-era National Labor Relations Act had bypassed: laborers in agriculture - a sector, it was reasoned, whose exigencies and seasonal nature made it unfeasible to protect collective bargaining rights. Perhaps at a later date - but either way, most of the workers in those sectors that the federal architecture kept out for the time being were black or immigrants, so what did it matter, really? In the following decades, agricultural labor’s share of the total labor force plummeted, to 8% by 1960. The once economic and cultural backbone of American society had plummeted in prestige accordingly; where once Thomas Jefferson had envisioned the future United States as a continent politically dominated by proud yeomen farmers, incessant agricultural labor shortages pushed the state to initiate programs to induce various foreign and otherwise non-white populations into its fields: Chinese, Japanese, Filipinos, Mexicans, Central Americans. The histories of many of the marginalized peoples of America may be traced in tandem with the needs of labor-intensive agricultural production, from slavery to sharecropping to guest-worker programs.

    Long before California legislators picked up formal debate in the chambers of the Capitol, agricultural workers working fields across California were organizing. In 1965, Filipino and Mexican farmworkers in Delano, California, came together in a comprehensive strike involving boycotts and multi-pronged national campaigns to petition California grape-growers for better wages. The United Farm Workers was birthed in the process. The UFW and the weight of its workers in subsequent bargains with agricultural employers grew after the grape strike - and then crested as quickly as it shortly afterward declined.

    At the expiration of the 1970 UFW-negotiated contract, growers now confronted a future in which they would have to face on more a more equal bargaining level new demands - from the very workers on whom they could once depend to pick cheaply and quietly. A 1973 article which appeared in Rolling Stone described growers’ discomfort with dealing with these processes and the basic notion of now having to negotiate:

    Today’s troubles started when it came time to sign a new one: Negotiations never passed the first point of discussion. It wasn’t just the [UFW]’s proposal the growers didn’t like. Most of them plain couldn’t stand the union. “It’s too goddamn democratic,” is the way one described it.

    In 1973 ongoing conflict between the UFW and the Teamsters over contracts inflamed again into violence. At the height of UFW-Teamster conflict, an estimated 50,000 farm workers could claim membership to either one of the organizations. César Chávez accused the latter of “acting in concert with the growers to destroy” the UFW’s bargaining efforts; even AFL-CIO president George Meany, a prominent conservative unionite, substantiated Chávez’s claims: the Teamsters were effectively acting, in his words, as strike breakers for the growers. The instability of the situation forced state law enforcement to frequently intervene to adjudicate, and the internal weakening of the UFW amidst this strife pushed Chávez and other union leaders to consider legislative resolutions. Finally, in 1975, with the support of Governor Jerry Brown, the Agricultural Labor Relations Act passed. 

    Its legacy from the start was fated to be mixed, and the fate of California’s farmworkers even moreso. The ALRA fundamentally upheld the collective bargaining rights of California farm workers and established rule of law for union leadership and electoral processes. But because it also represented a compromise between oppositional forces - the UFW, the Teamsters, and agribusiness, the act put in place certain restrictions on union activity and was designed not simply to protect labor rights but to tamp down its potential radicalism by providing legal structures for what was already taking place at the grassroots. Governor Brown’s Republican successor, George Deukmejian, was expectedly less eager to enforce its provisions, and the power of the UFW and personal luster of its leader, in a broader context of declining union power nationally and across sectors, faded over the following decades

    In 2017 Agricultural Labor Relations Board chairman William B. Gould IV described in his resignation letter that the Agricultural Labor Relations Act is “now irrelevant to farmworkers” and that “more than 99% of the agricultural workforce (a group disproportionately plagued by homelessness, diabetes, and lack of health insurance)” were not even represented by unions or collective bargaining agreements. Around half of California’s present-day agricultural workforce (which represents about a third of the country’s entire farm labor population), Gould pointed out, is undocumented, and such a vulnerable population is not eager to petition the government to serve as arbitrator of its interests. Governor Brown, now serving his second round of governorship over four decades after the UFW’s heyday, reflected that "when he signed the Agricultural Labor Relations Act, [he] probably thought there would be more… members in the farmworker unions than there are.” 


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    Richard Diebenkorn
    Interior with Book, 1959
    Interior with View of Ocean, 1957
    Interior with View of Buildings, 1962


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    Jackie Wilson 
    June 9, 1934 - January 21, 1984

    Even Elvis Presley knew why Wilson was called “Mr. Excitement”: I heard that seeing Wilson perform made the King want to hide under the table. The most spectacular Jackie Wilson show I ever saw was at Harlem’s famed Apollo Theater, around 1960. When he took the stage, adorned in a magnificent white suit, he spread his arms open wide, as if trying to embrace the entire room. He started singing the opening notes of his song “Doggin’ Around.“ 

    The audience broke into screams. Even the way he casually held his hands while singing was hypnotic. His dancing was spellbinding — twists and splits that left me in total disbelief. Quickly soaked in sweat (nobody knew how to sweat as good as Jackie Wilson), he took off his jacket and pretended he was going to throw it to the crowd, creating a pure sexual enchantment.

    Rolling Stone: 100 Greatest Artists of All Time


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    After this terrible fury, Japan entered a strange seclusion. It withdrew from the world again—not willingly, but under orders from the victors; and not alone, as in the centuries before Perry, but locked in an almost sensual embrace with its American conquerors. And soon enough, it became apparent that the Americans could not or would not let go… 

    There was no historical precedent for this sort of relationship, nor anything truly comparable elsewhere in the wake of the war. Responsibility for occupied Germany, Japan’s former Axis partner, divided as it was among the United States, England, France, and the Soviet Union, lacked the focused intensity that came with America’s unilateral control over Japan.

    Germany also escaped the messianic fervor of General Douglas MacArthur, the post-surrender potentate in Tokyo. For the victors, occupying defeated Germany had none of the exoticism of what took place in Japan: the total control over a pagan, Oriental society by white men who were (unequivocally, in General MacArthur’s view) engaged in a Christian mission. The occupation of Japan was the last immodest exercise in the colonial conceit known as ‘the white man’s burden.’



    - Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II, John W. Dower.

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    unhistorical:

    Jackie Wilson 
    June 9, 1934 - January 21, 1984

    Even Elvis Presley knew why Wilson was called “Mr. Excitement”: I heard that seeing Wilson perform made the King want to hide under the table. The most spectacular Jackie Wilson show I ever saw was at Harlem’s famed Apollo Theater, around 1960. When he took the stage, adorned in a magnificent white suit, he spread his arms open wide, as if trying to embrace the entire room. He started singing the opening notes of his song “Doggin’ Around.“ 

    The audience broke into screams. Even the way he casually held his hands while singing was hypnotic. His dancing was spellbinding — twists and splits that left me in total disbelief. Quickly soaked in sweat (nobody knew how to sweat as good as Jackie Wilson), he took off his jacket and pretended he was going to throw it to the crowd, creating a pure sexual enchantment.

    Rolling Stone: 100 Greatest Artists of All Time


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    Gordon Parks
    Black Muslim life in America
    1963

    The Gordon Parks Foundation


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    “the essence of the American dilemma…” 

    Korea’s Place in the Sun: A Modern History, Bruce Cumings.


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    unhistorical:

    “the essence of the American dilemma…” 

    Korea’s Place in the Sun: A Modern History, Bruce Cumings.


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    Happy 75th, Queen of Soul!
    (b. March 25, 1942)


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    The Color Curtain: A Report on the Bandung Conference, Richard Wright, 1956.


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