Flickr user sinosplice has posted a fun photoset called "Military Weaponry For Kids". Which is pages he's scanned from a fun Chinese coloring book that lets kids practice characters and coloring using a wide variety of weaponry as examples. There's nothing as cute as kids and tanks in my opinion. (Kittens and tanks might be supercute too, but I have never seen that).
Regardless of whether or not you think kids should play with pretend guns and other war-like toy accoutrements, I have to say that it is an odd photo, and her kid looks sort of weird and sad.
There's nothing of the eccentric dynamic drama and power of Diane Arbus's famous photo, Child With A Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park, but there is something of the same fundamental strangeness and weariness - in this case hollow sleepy eyes which seem to hold the exhaustion with war that one only gains from fighting it.
Looking at the picture, I have no answers, only more questions:
Does being Rosie O'Donnell's child give one the famous thousand mile stare?
And who makes that plastic kids bandolier anyway?????
The New York Times ran an interesting article today about a day in the life of Comanche Company's First Platoon in Baquba and how they handled a neighborhood in which seemingly every house was rigged to explode - H-BIED's. House-borne improvised explosive devices. It's the classic nightmare environment where a single wrong move can mean death. Interesting too how this article on an archetypically dangerous environment was illustrated with a young soldier who looks like he stepped right out of a Hollywood war movie's backlot.
A warzone seems like one of the few environments outside of dreams where juxtapositions between the unreal, fantasy, and the hyperreal can seem the norm not the exception.
In any case, a fascinating snapshot of a grim and dangerous reality that is a long way away from the day to day reality of most Americans.
The above recreation of the famous raising of the flag photograph from the battle of Iwo Jima is by two Cuban (American?) artists, Alain Guerra, and Neraldo de la Paz currently living and working in Miami under the name Guerre de la Paz. Which is their last names, but also is sort of War of the Peace in English. So maybe I have common cause with them because TBoW is also about the War of the Peace.
But anyway, Charles Lindberg, the last living member of the real (first) flag raisers on Iwo Jima died today at age 86.
I wonder what he would have thought of Guerre de la Paz's interpretation of what he and other Marines did that day?
I view the artwork as a couple of artists using GI toy soldiers to make a point that the US military no longer defends America, but America's consumer culture instead. And their problem with this is?? Well who knows. This is as far as it takes me.
Below is another of their artworks using GI Joes, this one a recreation of DaVinci's Last Supper.
Who will betray GI Christ?
See more of their artwork, and learn more from their website, here.
I think that just shows smart military thinking. After all, if you want to win wars, why get involved in wars where you fighting other armies? Why not only fight countries without armies? (Of course this is a little unfair, because Panama, one of the two countries I link to above abolished their armed forces AFTER we had our military intervention there, and by that token, you could say that we help encourage countries to abolish their military).
By the way, the picture above is from this theologically oriented article about the Vatican's Swiss Guard .
According to Weird Asia News, this picture reflects the increasing popularity of the Valentines' Day holiday in China.
I think it's a sneak peek at their secret weapon.
If you like this hairdryer, you will probably enjoy the alarm clock shown above. Each morning when the alarm goes off (With an "Explosion Sound"), you need to pull just the right wires apart to get the "Explosion Sound" to cease. Just like defusing a terrorist bomb! Probably not the best gift idea for your Iraqi friends, or, as the website says, "Not for children under 15". Because 14 year olds just won't be able to handle this. They are too sensitive.
From the press release:
This is the future, perhaps not so distant. The children have taken over. Weintraub follows the joyous, Uzi-fueled maraudings of their angelic army with pow-pow-pow vigor, kindergarten-craft candy color, sequins and artificial fur. These are high key, manic compositions of biblical proportion. A twisting rush of unthinking empowerment fills the moral void.
This is the third wave of Weintraub's paintings of hyper-violent tots. The second he premiered at Axel Raben Gallery in Chelsea in 2004. The chaos is now even more serpentine, sugared and beaded. Some of the children have begun wearing plastic cartoon-character dinner plates as masks. They venture into the forest in groups to seek out and kill the few surviving adults, who hide out, beyond caring, mustachioed and uniformed in pink inflatable ballerina costumes.
This is why I'm having second thoughts about having kids.
In Weintraub's apocalyptic vision, adults are punished for engendering moral collapse in society by being annihilated by battalions of stimulus addicted and violence desensitized children and 'tots'.
That society will be apocalyptically destroyed for it's failure to maintain moral law and order is an argument in vogue these days - For example, it's the theme of conservative author Dinesh D'Souza's new book The Enemy At Home, which argues that young and violent jihadis are in part the consequence of moral laxness in the West. (An argument that fellow Hoover Institute conservative Victor Davis Hanson does a nice job of questioning in his recent column Our Provocateurs.)
Although the hyper violent content of Weintraub's paintings belies what one might expect of a "...committed practitioner of Orthodox Judaism and the father of two young children..." as his bio puts it, the conservative underpinnings of his artwork is very much in line with his background.
While I believe some of the substance of his critique is valid - there are without question dangers to the increasing infantilization of society - I'm skeptical that Weintraub's artistic attack is "hitting its target". The artwork's primary appeal is not in the "message" but in their sticky sweet surface transgressions - innocent little children engaged in hyperviolence.
The danger of this is that his intelligent and creative art becomes nothing more than Juxtapoze magazine's dystopia of the month; another well rendered and well crafted vision of innocence gone bad. In such a context, Weintraub's artwork could become a cliched "twisted worldview" with about as many real twists as the last Arnold Schwarzenegger action thriller.
In that sense, it could be more representative of the failed ideologies of the art world than of the real world.
One problem is that his vision already exists in the real world, and the horrors and intensity and specificity of the real life manifestations go right to the heart of his message with a lot more gravity, and a lot less of the "coolness" or "hipness" that one sees in this artwork.
But I think there is definitely both the room and the need to come at the problem of an infantilized society from Weintraub's perspective, and I think he's won the first battle by producing provocative work. Now he needs to take it to a new and different level.
I get more of a sense of what's possible in his "Tiny Works". These seem to have an immediacy and fidelity to the original visions in his imagination that feels more direct and fresh. In these, he's not thinking so much about making things slick, he's just trying to get it right before the idea runs away.
That makes me wish he would just forget about his political critique, and get a little more absorbed by the matter at hand - the battle between between children and adults. In a war like this, I don't think the battles would be as one-sided as Weintraub depicts it.
Like it or not, It's time for the adults (or those who think of themselves as adults) to fight back.
Weintraub's a talented and imaginative painter. I'll be looking forward to his next installment.
The always interesting and entertaining English Russia blog had a very good post today that showed illustrations by an unnamed Russian who collect stories from Russian soldiers about the hazing experiences they undergo in the army.
The illustrations of these cruel practices are precise, naive and very very oddly beautiful.
Underneath there are simple explanations about the hazing technique that is being depicted.
Rush Limbaugh notoriously accepted a description of the abuse at Abu Ghraib as being comparable to fraternity hazing, so maybe he would defend Putin for allowing comrades to be comrades. I'm sure Rush Limbaugh is not alone in his view of hazing though.