Saturday, November 21, 2009

Our Fragile Emissary

With modern screening and such
they wonder why
you're here, on this earth
in our home
and in our arms,
after all, anyone
with any sense would have resolved
this problem of you
pre-birth, pre pain.

Blonde Beauty,
tiny as you are,
you catch their stares,
strangers' second glances
into tender baby blues.
And your young
sweet ears hear whisperings
("Down's," "defects")
words dropped loosely
at extra-chromosomed girls.

With such stinging receptions
how we long to shelter you,
surround you; keep your
gentle smiles to ourselves.
Instead, we hold you
up, for others to see;
let you, our fragile emissary
speak to an imperfect world.

Written by Nancy Tupper Ling

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Mission 6: The Tard Supper

Dan Savage just published a blog post about a painting by Russian artist Raoef Mamedov. This painting recreates the Last Supper, replacing Christ and his disciples with people who have Down syndrome. I'm not sure what the artist has in mind with this particular piece. It's beautifully rendered, and it's obviously open to interpretation. From my perspective, it's everything good art should be. I think it shows people with Down syndrome in a very beautiful light. I dunno, maybe other people just look at it and laugh at the "retards." Or maybe it's a hit piece on Christians. Like I said - it's open to interpretation.

Anyway, my problem is not with the artwork, it's with the headline Dan Savage chose for it. The Tard Supper. Ah Dan, so eloquent. For those of you who don't know, Dan is a nationally syndicated, openly-gay sex columnist. I happen to be a big fan of his column, because he is incredibly smart, interesting and witty. But surely Dan, of all people, should know what it feels like to be dismissed by hateful and hurtful labels. So I won't give him a pass as he mocks the mentally challenged.

Oz Squad members - please visit this link to see the post for yourself. Dan could benefit from hearing our comments. He should change the headline and write an apology, and that's what we all need to ask him to do.

For more information on the artist, here's an excerpt I pulled from a press packet. It explains some of his technique/motivation.

Moscow-based Mamedov utilizes the process of film direction by collaborating with a painter, photographer, computer technician, and actors to produce extrasensory photographs. Though the scenes viewed in the final works are complex with multiple players, each actor is separately photographed with Mamedov directing the actors’ emotions and providing the vision for the subsequent digitization and computer placement. Adding a strange conceptual twist, his “actors” range from institutionalized mental patients to individuals with Down Syndrome enabling him to utilize the true abilities of the actors’ minds as an art medium that heighten the pieces’ cultural connections and meanings.

Mamedov tackles the Bible and foundations of Christianity with straight adaptations of historical masterpieces by Nicolai Ge, Leonardo da Vinci, and Jan van Eyck. The featured works depict scenes from the New Testament played by actors with Down Syndrome. In portraying biblical characters, elements of the actors’ real-time fragmented state of mind and their tendency to think in quotations highlights the humanism of those portrayed personalities. Mamedov relates the state of his actors’ minds to Satori, a Zen Buddhist notion meaning sudden enlightenment or a flash of sudden awareness. This notion of a flash of consciousness elevates the visual impact of the art as an essentially pure communication of the acted message.

Want more? Find the full packet here.

Thanks to Oz Squad member Melissa for the alert!