Raphael Montañez Ortíz
LIBERTY IN A TEMPEST TEAPOT, 2011, Digital Collage Painting, 5' x 9,' (Collection of the Artist).
Ortíz since 1962 has had his De-struction furniture sculpture and Piano De-struction Concert installations, and Dis-assemblage Film works included (to mention a few) in such museum collections as the MOMA and the Whitney of NYC, the MOCA of Los Angeles, the Ludwig of Koln, Germany and Pompidou of Paris, France. Since 1966, Ortíz has been performing, exhibiting, and screening Film and Film-Scratch-Video throughout the world.
Since the mid-1950s, Ortíz has made significant contributions in the following art historical arenas: Film, Music and Sound, Sculpture, Ritual Performance, De-struction of Furniture, Objects of all kinds and Pianos. His Ritual De-structions are often Interactive and result in Installation(s). His digital Art work includes from 1982 to the early nineties Computer-Laser-Scratch Film-Video, Video-Conference-Virtual-Art, and since the mid 1990's Digital Collage Painting on vinyl averaging 9'x 6' in size. With his works on vinyl he has pioneered innovative electronic art-making methods that combine text-and image to create neo-metaphysical, noetic, and lucid-dream images. Raphael Montañez Ortíz is the originator in 1957 of "new" film-editing techniques, which fuse chance-operations, Chaos Theory, as well as hyper-sequential editing and in 1982 real-time digital editing scratch techniques.
In terms of his artistic and socio-political involvement, in 1969, Ortíz founded and served as first director of El Museo del Barrio, East Harlem (NYC), an institution devoted to advancing Latino art and culture. As a strong advocate for public education, in the early-1970s, he was an initial faculty-member within Mason Gross School of Art (Rutgers University, NJ). Plus, he has consistently opposed all forms of political-iniquity, senseless wars, social-injustice, genocide, racial prejudice, economic-oppression and exploitation of the underclass.
In Liberty in a Teapot Tempest, Ortíz assembles an interesting symbolic interplay between a dark menacing background storm and a dramatic, hectic, and energetic foreground. This stormy image examines recent unjust US-immigration policies, as well as rising ethno-racist bigotry, which is unfairly targeting both "documented" and "undocumented" working-class Latinos. In the image, three flags (the USA's, Arizona's, and Nebraska's) are repeatedly depicted three times. As phobic and ominous twin cyclones hit the horizon of the continental USA, three US-flags flutter in the Atlantic Ocean; while three Arizona and Nebraska state-flags are set "motionless" upon the base of the Statue of Liberty. As these rigid state-flags uniformly decorate the statue's base, the US-flags still flaps with life; due presumably to the fact that the US government is challenging the Constitutionality of Arizona's SB 1070 anti-Latino legislation and the FBI is investigating recent hate-crimes against Latinos in Omaha, Nebraska.
Within the dark Rorschach-inkblot storm-clouds, the crowned head of the Statue of Liberty has nearly disappeared. Additionally, due to the weight of two enormous tea-bags, Liberty's unlit torch cannot be lifted nor lit. All around Liberty Island, copies of the US Constitution bobble and drift in the Atlantic, while brave refugees swim toward a fearsome and fortified shoreline encircled with strident sharp-fences and loud signs that declare, "Stop, illegal alien invasion!" or "Deport illegal aliens!" Above the tragic scene, a cynical and completely revised-version of Emma Lazarus's New Colossus poem prophetically hints at the possibility of America's betrayal by fanatical members of the "rightwing."
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