Actual history of art.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way ………
“A Tale of Two Cities,” Charles Dickens. 1859

I’m interested in the intersection between truth and fiction, between cinema and still photography, between documentary and staged images.  I began the “Sub-version” project as a series of open-ended diptychs in response to the accelerated changes generated by the new millennium, 9/11, globalization, war on terror, surveillance, ominous rumors, the enemy within, the enemy without.

I was born in Chernivtsi (Czernowitz) Ukraine in 1941. My father was conscripted by the Soviets, my mother, sister and I were deported to Transnistria, in 1944 we were liberated by the Russian Army. We spent six years in the refugee camps of West Germany, and immigrated to the USA when I was nine years old.  I came of age with the Sixties Generation. Our slogans were “Never Again,” “Give Peace a Chance,” “We Shall Overcome,” “Make Love Not War” — with a belief in progress and evolution of human awareness towards ever more enlightened thinking.  During the exhilarating sequence of events that began with Glasnost and that ended with the fall of the communism it almost seemed as if this would happen and that we’d all love each other and live happily ever after.

But now when I turn on the news in the mornings I see while progress is made history repeats itself. Here we are in the second decade of the 21 Century with our iphones and technological wizardry, strung somewhere between medievalism and science fiction, between colossal wealth and miserable poverty – apocalyptic manmade, technological and environmental disasters. But most disappointing in this moment is to hear that in France, land of Liberte, Fraternite and Le Resistance, 25% of the vote went to extreme right wing candidates; that Switzerland just legalized the Swastika and the Hitler salute; that there is a growing wave of anti Semitism in Europe, and in the United States racism is on the rise and a large swath of the population are leaning to the right, valuing their guns and their right to shoot a neighbor because the neighbor stepped on their land.

So what can one say of the art of the future? Does it go forward in a constant stream of reinvention, or does it repeat itself like life itself? Certainly technology is the latest medium on the block. One can do amazing things that were unimaginable just a few years ago. Does that mean that we’ll throw away our paint brushes and other art making implements and just create virtual imagery that can be projected anywhere? Maybe – because we’ll run out of space to store so many analog objects. I once heard a photo history lecture that described the world prior to the invention of photography.  Only rich people could afford to commission a portrait. Poor people wouldn’t have even own a mirror, so that they never actually saw what they looked like. Nowadays we are so surrounded and bombarded by visuals that I can imagine a future need to create image/sound  free zones where one could get away from it all. But I can’t imagine there would ever not be a need for artists to create representations of the world around them, to use tactile materials, to tell stories and express the essence of being human.