Sunday, August 2, 2015

Villains, Patriots and the Masses


By Bob Ferris
Two of the haunting images inscribed with Persian poetry by Shirin Neshat.
Carlene and I just visited the Hirschhorn in DC and had an opportunity to view the imagery and film created by Iranian-born artist Shirin Neshat.   The exhibit was particularly moving as it dealt with Iran from the 1950s forward which encompasses much in terms drama, tragedy and guilt.  The latter emotion stemming from our own involvement in this bloody and sometimes ridiculous political ballet.
Collection of photographs representing the Masses by Shirin Neshat.
As I left much was running through my mind such as the irony of a democratic country backing a monarch over a duly elected ruler.  The plight of woman in this theocracy and the underlayment of big oil and greed were in evidence as well.  But what stuck with me was the section based on The Shahnameh or the Book of Kings.  Here she cuts up the whole Persian pie into Villains, Patriots and the Masses.
Photos collectively known as the Patriots by Shirin Neshat.
This classification system struck me, because it translates so well into many settings including our own present condition in the US.  Now some might not see a striking resemblance between these menacing “villains” and the oligarchy becoming entrenched in this country but I certainly see the connection.
One of the three villains with illustrations of The Book of Kings on their bodies by Shirin Neshat.
I also have wrestled some with the idea that there might easily be a fourth class that I would call “minions” such as those in Congress who serve the interests of the Villains forgetting the core principles of the country’s Founding Fathers.  Minions would also include actors like the Tea Party or the various extremist militias that are the sheepdogs that push us all away from rational policies towards those that would do us harm.  We would probably not fall victim to this latter group if only we could hear over their incessant barking or see past their clicking jaws.

So like most good art does, this exhibit makes one think and then think again.  My sincere hope is that the Patriots in this country succeed and are able to prevail against the Villains.  But this can only happen if we oust those members of the Masses currently serving the Villains and are able to ignore and control the yapping and snapping of the far too loud and impactful few.  My hope is that we Patriots prevail.

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