Final paper

final paper



Reading response: “Artist Taryn Simon on Filling the Park Avenue Armory With Professional Mourners” – VOGUE

I though it was so interesting when we discussed in class the act of mourning and how differently nations and groups around the world treat such a ritual that is inherent to the human condition. Everyone suffers from loss and how we experience that seems like it could be more similar than different, yet how we express it seems like its vastly different and influenced so heavily by society and tradition. I have only experiences a few losses in my life in terms of relatives or friends passing away, but I have always noticed the difficulty of how I should act and contemplate during such times. The society I have lived in seems to never encourage outward expression during a time of mourning. Celebratory actions seem to never occur, yet in other culture they way mourning is dealt with seems to become much more public and less private (however I feel that mourning is always internalized no matter who.) This is why I find Taryn Simon’s piece so interesting as she brings in a collection of mourners to take part in a piece combining their voices that vary given their unique backgrounds. I find some interesting problems that the article points out such as its emphasis on payment and other interactions with the performers. It would have been very interesting to experience this piece in person.

Portraits of mothers in Venezuela’s murder crisis

I believe portrait photography is incredibly powerful in connecting emotionally. The images from this article remind me of the video we watched in class where close ups of Columbian people’s faces were displayed on screen as they sang their own tunes to the camera about loss and violence in the their country. The presence of violence in Venezuela is similar to that of other countries in Central and South America. Thousands of people disappear and are murdered in the country. Venezuela’s capital has become know as the murder capital of the world. In the article below, a series of emotional photographs of mothers who have lost children to violence evoke incredible emotion in the viewer. Not only do the visuals cast sorrow, but the stories that accompany the photographs explain of mishaps and other wrongful reasons that the mothers’ children were killed. An intimate look at objects and spaces related to their children attach deeply emotional memory to the mothers.



Link to article:


Sicario – one of my favorite movies – is more than just a thriller I want to discuss. The film does in fact come from a Hollywood studio, but it is the director Dennis Villeneuve who elevates the film beyond an action shoot-em up blockbuster. The film involves an incredible look into the war-like landscape of the border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The film focuses on a storyline around an operation to infiltrate a drug cartel and take out its leader, but beyond this plot the film does an excellent job at portraying the political, social, and economic issues surrounding this topic. What’s so interesting about this film is that it highlights a more silent hidden war right on the edge of the U.S. own turf. Sicario may dramatize characters and storylines, but there is no denying that the movie illustrates a realistic and intense, violent landscape around the drug war. Through its cinematography and various other cinematic elements, the film makes us look deeper into an issue we may never face ourselves in person.



Trailer link:

LA riots

It’s incredible to see such a military intervention in a city within the U.S. The LA riots that were a reaction to the acquittal of LAPD officers who brutally assaulted a black taxi driver, Rodney King. The protests were some of the most intense in U.S. history and many series of photos and documentaries have been recently released following the escalation of protests around the Black Lives Matter movement. 50 people died during the riots and the images released from the riots portray an all out war zone. The context is incredibly interesting and it’s hard to not compare the riots to some sort of civil war. The article below discusses the interesting coverage of media and lack there of where inside documentation of the violence was greatly unseen at the time. Many people didn’t know the seriousness of the situation at the time making the photos in the article even more powerful and incredibly important when thinking about conflict and how it is portrayed to the public.



Ai Weiwei’s audio project

Ai Weiwei has released an audio track – a 40 minute tribute to 5,196 students lost in the Wenchuan Earthquake in 2008. The Chinese government was heavily criticized for its lack of care for poor quality buildings that led to such an immense death toll – close to 69,000. Though the cause of the catastrophe was an earthquake and not necessarily war-related, I think that this audio track is a visceral and raw memorial that’s of an audible nature rather than physical form. This is interesting in terms of how listeners may interact with the piece as opposed to going somewhere to see it.

Check out the article and audio track: