Sunday, May 27, 2018

Processionalization: Power Lunch With The Tasaday: Part I

Time is a curious thing.

The genesis of Processionalization: Power Lunch With The Tasaday goes all the way back to my elementary school days back in the early 1980s.  My school chums and I were in Social Studies class learning about the Tasaday -a stone age tribe of humans from a remote cave in the Philippines who had somehow remained untouched by contact with modern 20th-century human civilization.

Recently, memories of the Tasaday popped into my conscious brain, and I thought it might make an interesting piece of artwork to reference the Tasaday and their primitive way of life and maybe even make a piece that speculated how they might be if they were living their everyday lives now in modern culture.

To refresh my memory about the Tasaday, I got onto the internet and started doing some reading.  What I saw changed my memories of my childhood, my understanding of public education, and weakened my already eroded trust in authority figures.

In short, the Tasaday were a hoax (at least in part).  Their language was highly similar to neighboring tribes (indicating a language split with their neighbors sometime in the mid 1800s not thousands of years ago), there was no archaeological evidence in the cave they supposedly lived in for centuries (typically you would find layers and layers and layers and layers of bones, hunting weapons, trash, etc.), and where they lived in the forest could not provide enough food for the tribe by simply foraging.  There are more things to discredit the story, but you get the idea.

My problem comes from the fact that several anthropologists had raised serious concerns/doubts about the authenticity of the Tasaday based on a lack of archaeological evidence back in the 1970s.  None of this was mentioned in our textbooks in the 1980s.  We were taught straight up that the Tasaday were real.  At the very least, shouldn't the textbook publisher have known what was in their textbook was potentially a lie?  Did our teacher know we were being taught some dubious 'information'?

Anyway, I could go on more about power structures, authority, brainwashing, perception engineering, and whatnot.  Suffice it to say, out of this newly learned information, Processionalization: Power Lunch With The Tasaday was born.

Back to the present day.

The fourth floor gallery space at The Figge Art Museum has several long stretches of wall space.  It seems like an excellent opportunity to make something bigger than my usual run-of-the-mill kinds of work.  How about a 5'x20' mural?  Why not?

Let's begin...

There are going to be a whole bunch of building-esque/skyline structures running along the bottom register of this piece.  These next few images are sub-par in quality, but they will be invaluable to me when it becomes time to reassemble everything on the canvas because they show the orientation of all of the pieces.

Once they are cut out and wrapped with fabric, they look kind of like this...

...and this...
...and this.

Then I add some other ingredients like this...

...and like this...

...and this...

Just a slight detour here:  These are some letter blocks I was cutting out to form the word 'CAVE' (which you can see on the image above).  I am intrigued by the letter and arrow combo.  It may turn up in future sketches and/or pieces.  That is all.

A whole bunch of building-esque forms being laid out and adhered to the surface.

Now they have been hit with their first coat of paint.  They will get covered multiple times.  I am priming them in order to firm them up, unify their surfaces to some degree, and reduce their absorbency -so when I start using the expensive iron metallic surfacer, I don't have to use nearly as much.

Another detour: We've always got time to showcase some 'stinky paint'!

Alright, back at it.

Here's a shot of all five panels lined up.

Side by side...

That's all I've got for this post.  Before I go, however, I need to acknowledge several people.  By no means would I have been able to get this far with this piece without the exceptional and generous help of Terry RathjePedro CarranzaJosh JohnsonVanessa Sage, and Jennifer SaintFort.

In addition I would like to thank Katarina Wolf and Maysun Sallak (two of my former MetroArts interns who I was able to hire and help me out in the studio thanks to a Quad City Arts Arts Dollar$ Project Grant that I received this past Spring.  I am proud to say:“This project is supported by Quad City Arts Dollars, provided by the Illinois Arts Council Agency, Hubbell-Waterman Foundation, and John Deere.”

One final note while I'm dropping names left and right, all of the wonderful burlap texture that you see comes from these large (empty) burlap coffee bean sacks that Katarina Wolf contributed to the project.  Her folks run Country Morning Coffee.  They get the beans in and roast the coffee themselves in small batches.  Making their own special coffee blends.  If you are at all into coffee, you need to check them out:  Here is a link to their website: and here is a link to their Facebook page:

Just a few days until Pop Culture Palimpsest opens!

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