Rudy Senstad, emblazoning himself (or did someone else do this to him?) at Kean and Arjuna’s show in their new space, Concord, in Highland Park, July 3 (Los Angeles).

We ask and, depending on your answer, we apply.

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Portraits from Rockford, Illinois

This is a re-post of an article from the New York Times today – since it’s not showing up on my RSS feed, and for posterity’s sake, I want to re-post it here,

Portraits from a Job-Starved City

It’s a series of interviews with people on both sides of the employment/unemployment divide, and it’s really well done.

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Recently, images from the SWAG collection were posted on the wall in a group show in Minneapolis. The show establishment, restaurant that it was, catered to the tastes of various eaters. One eater found the images from this project offensive, claiming (or so I hear, third-hand) she did not wish to see “pictures of body parts” while she was eating. I had to wonder whether the body parts in question – forearms, hands, a stomach – were not, in fact, frequently on display while eating, particularly the first two. But perhaps this particular patron ate with her arms tied behind her back, face to plate.

The deeper issue, I am guessing, had to do with not wanting to digest both food and the politics of need in the same moment.

I had to guess that she, herself, through some magic of the marketplace, was insured.

[I also heard that she may have misread the tattoos as track marks from shooting up. It’s too bad she didn’t look more closely. On the other hand, if someone mistakes the images for such things far away and discovers their actual message close-up, it’s kind of the perfect shock. And not at all a reading I’d imagined for it…].

It was decided (ahem) that the images should either be “covered” somehow – for the curious to unveil, then conceal again – or be removed from the show. They were covered, but briefly, as the entire show came down early – due in part to this discreet act of censorship. For my part, I was interested in how the whole enterprise of concealment/approach was going to work out in this busy restaurant/gallery. It actually would have been a fairly precise spatial metaphor for the social shame around “unspeakable” economic facts that the SWAG project, as a whole, is meant to ridicule and upend. But the show’s fate was not my call.

Not exactly the “ideal” viewing situation for this work (work that’s better worn by me and you than represented, anyway), but an interesting turn for the project to take in mixed-use space….

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I’d like to start by saying

this should have been here long ago, as this project began in October of 2009.

After many delays, I would like to invite you to post your comments and SWAG updates here, as will I.

I went into debt getting these items made because I felt compelled to bring them into the world.  At one time, I hoped to recoup my losses by selling the SWAG to break even.  Now…. the time for some of the SWAG seems to have passed, and for other items in the SWAG collection, the meanings have simply changed.

Despite the passage of the health care bill in March, many of us are still underinsured and uninsured, and may remain so for at least the next 3 years.  Many of us might still be denied coverage for health issues in these intervening years even if we technically are “covered” by health insurance.  So the meanings of the temporary tattoos, after the (relieving, momentous, minor but necessary) passage of the bill, are a little more like whispers – the parentheses around the words now seem to mean, “Psst!  Hey – guess what?  The secret here is that I’m STILL uninsured!”  As someone who may soon be denied coverage for a condition I’m currently undergoing treatment for, I will once again be wearing the tattoos, myself…..

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