Tokesplace Presents:


Aziza Claudia Gibson-Hunter’s Suspicious Activities

10 Mar

Aziza with an image from Suspicious Activities
Suspicious Activities, presented in a show curated by Michael Platt October 17 – November 16, 2008 at the DC Arts Center consist of 31 paintings and works on paper. They provoke serious thinking about the fluid and slippery political language used to justify war, neglect, racism and the business of war.
Suspicious Activities is conceptually dense consisting of language, symbols and images relating to Iraq, Hurricane Katrina, unsolved murders of African Americans in Washington D.C, and the ongoing crisis in Darfur. It successfully depicts the political language of misdirection used to persuade citizens to first follow, and then ignore obvious unpalatable results. The works beg for critical thinking and at the same time suggest a better way.
Aziza’s creative process includes journaling. When something interest her deeply she starts a process she calls gathering (research). Ideas and concepts generated during the gathering incubate. During incubation, and continued contemporaneous gathering, the ideas and concepts are modified, refined, expanded, fleshed out and further ripened. After some incubation, according to her determination, she begins applying the concepts to canvas.
She began this collection first by working contemporaneously on six to eight works in a stream of consciousness fashion. The remaining works are broadly derivative or suggested by the first works. It took two years to complete Suspicious Activities.
A few images are presented here to stimulate interest in seeingthe entire series. The images can only be fully appreciated whenseen “in person” from as many angles as possible. 
New World Order was among the first images created.
The focal center of this work is an image of Condoleezza Rice. Her face is offset and she has a skeletal left hand. Arrayed around Rice are images of the parents of Emmit Till; a murdered District of Columbia black man and an Iraqi citizen holding pieces of his daughter. Embedded in the image are concepts, images and phrases. Phrases include “how does a place of battle become a theater”; “preemptive war;” “No Iraqis left me on the roof to die ”, “ prison number 7053”, “legalized torture”; “secret evidence”; “imprisonment without trial”, “rendition”, and “black sites.” Irony, paradox and contradictions and surreal all exist concurrently in the surreal world depicted in this work.
The horizontal line running through the center of New World Order is present, explicitly or implicitly, in all the works of Suspicious Activities. The line is a metaphor for the immorality revealed by Hurricane Katrina. Below the line exist mold symbolic of human misuse, disuse, and abuse visited by the powerful.
An image that might have been derived from concepts embedded New World Order is Suspicious Characters Diptych:
Suspicious Characters Diptych
This work bears the actual names of people who died in Washington DC, Iraq and New Orleans. The tabs represent things that killed people. Bullets, suicide, bombs, missiles, still birth, heart attacks, distress, hypertension and on and on. Names make the victims real and not collateral damage.
Collateral Damage almost speaks for itself.
Collateral Damage
It was prepared using bleach. The result is randomly formed and randomly distributed white spots and cloud like formations of different sizes. For me it is an abstract expression of the random destruction it portrays. The image came alive for some viewers who were in New Orleans during reconstruction. They told Aziza of the odor of bleach, which they smelled in this work, was pervasive during New Orleans cleanup.
Refugee touched me personally. Conceptual references to a number of issues are obvious. However my cultural compass pointed me directly to the image of tbe black man in the left quadrant of the composition.
Refugee
I think immediately of the first media reference to black refugees in the wake of Katrina. After strong objections, reference to refugees was changed to citizens. Nevertheless the body politic continued to treat blacks as refugees.
Suspicious Activity artistically portrays the slippery concepts underlying contemporary events. That motif , however, is timeless. When society is fortunate artist like Aziza come along to help clarify societal problems again and again and again ad infinitum.
Go see the entire Suspicious Activities portfolio at http://gibsonhunterstudio.com/image_list.html.

Aziza thank you for your time and patience. Drop me a note on this blog and let me know what you think. 

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