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The Shadow of the State - De File
Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
cbertsch
cbertsch
The Shadow of the State
I decided to walk to Steven and Robin's house from Ashby BART yesterday afternoon. It was awkward carrying my bags that far, but I felt the need to be outside and realized that I could commemorate my first semester at UC Berkeley -- I didn't start to take Prince until I'd become more used to the decidedly mixed neighborhood -- by walking down Ashby to Sacramento. This meant that I got to walk by Malcom X School -- a public elementary -- where I used to play basketball during those halcyon days in the fall of 1987. I stopped to take a photo of the playground, then turned to look at the long and impressive public art on the wall across the street. It's an anti-war mural with references to Picasso, Goya, Bosch, Sue Coe and other artists famed for their vivid depictions of suffering and despair. I crossed to get a closer look, noticing the potential for allegory in this view:

I'm the least anarchic person in my household. But there's something about this shot that stirs a mixture of rage and melancholy in my soul. In a sense, every sign casts a shadow on our freedom.

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Comments
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 6th, 2006 12:33 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

I like this picture

I like this picture a lot. To me, the possible readings are contradictory, but rewarding for study. I like your caption below it: the shadow seems to blur the boundaries between the reds of the paint, erasing large portions of the message transmitted through the secondary source of this picture. But in another sense, could the picture exist without the sign cast across it? How do the opposing elements within the picture balance each other, and how do they destroy each other?
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: February 6th, 2006 12:55 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: I like this picture

Hey, thanks! I love your question: "Could the picture exist without the sign cast across it?" I mean, literally, it could, since the mural is there on overcast days as well. But from the standpoint of the political allegory, perhaps the bar is necessary in order to make that which it seeks to bar legible.
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 7th, 2006 01:26 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: I like this picture

And to read that back into the literal picture itself: Would this picture exist if not for the bar? Why else was it taken, if not for the content created by the shadow? The practical implications for political/artistic blurring come to the fore in this reading, and this recedes the allegorical aesthetic notions of the picture.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: February 7th, 2006 01:34 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: I like this picture

I did take some other "documentary" shots of the mural, because I liked it and wanted to capture a particularly Berkeley experience. But the shadow sequence was by far the most interesting of the pictures I took of it.
masoo From: masoo Date: February 6th, 2006 05:04 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
What's weird is, depending on when exactly you played hoops at Malcolm, we might have crossed paths before we actually met. We lived on Prince, a block from Malcolm, until the World Series in '87. Neal and Sara went to school there, and Sara might have still been going there in 1987, I'm not sure.
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