“Pink and Blue”
Baker-Miller Pink, photo printed Foamcore
90” x 74”
Richard Telles Gallery
Pink and Blue is based on a small collage from a recent series of collages. The series is comprised of small black and white portraits that are sliced into narrow vertical or horizontal strips and then slightly rearranged so that the image is out of order but still recognizable. This reference to, or activation of facial recognition has to do with a number of considerations. William Burroughs talked about his “cut-up” technique as a way to open up language from the present and its controlling structure, and release it into the future where new associations would be present. I am interested in opening up images of these individuals, evoking the past with some familiarity, but also the present. Somewhere between recognition and an image out of order, a glitch, or an arbitrary gesture allowing noise to enter into the image. These rearranged images are collaged on a field of color that both frames and isolates them in space. Here the face functions as a site, a relay, not only to the work, writing, voice, compositions, the labor of the subject, but also to the cultural context of their contributions.
This particular installation Pink and Blue, is based on a small collage I had previously made using a 1970’s image of Angela Davis. Her pose and gesture is contemplative with her head resting on her folded arm. She looks away from the camera. This image evokes the past predominantly because of Davis’s natural Afro, which at the time was a powerful political expression of black solidarity in the face of intense racism and oppression. This was also a time when Angela Davis was in the media for her involvement with the Soledad prison controversy, the Black Panthers, and her image had become an icon of black power and resistance. Davis was a student of Herbert Marcuse at Brandeis, and was her mentor at the University of California at San Diego.
I am interested in how the ghosting of the past is present and how this Hauntological position suggests that the past is very present today. This reordered image of Angela Davis is floating in a large field of pink color on the wall. The original collage that this is based on is also pink, and was chosen more or less arbitrarily at the time. But the pink evokes a special shade and brand of pink color known as Baker-Miller Pink, developed in the 1970’s. Baker-Miller Pink is claimed to reduce hostile, violent or aggressive behavior. The color is also known as Schauss pink. Alexander Schauss did extensive research into the effects of the color on emotions at the Naval Correctional Facility in Seattle, and named it after the institute directors, Baker and Miller. The use of this color reflects the subliminal mechanisms of control and oppression that were prevalent in the 1970’s, and to the present. In this window installation, the original collage has been recreated at a visibly public scale that is visible from the space of the street and passersby. Functioning as a remixed sign, Pink and Blue, an homage to Angela Davis, is a Hauntological site that is revisiting a moment of cultural history while activating our collective amnesia.