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  #1  
Old 06-24-2007, 05:52 PM
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Merlion Merlion is offline
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(Barbed) Wired for Controversy

Wired for controversy: Symbolic sculpture by Native American rejected by University of New Mexico - Barbed

From the 1996 Archives of Black Issues In Higher Education

The University of New Mexico has rejected a sculpture it had commissioned from a Native-American artist because his final product includes barbed wire.


The work, "Cultural Crossroads," by Bob Haozous, "is not the work we commissioned," says Bob Walsh, director of UNM's Pine Arts Museum. "It is substantially different." The model that Haozous presented is different from the final product, says Walsh. And while a number of changes were made from the original model, it is one change, in particular, that has raised the ire of the university -- the razor wire that sits atop the work.

The sculpture depicts a migration scene from an old Aztec picture book. Three Indians are shown migrating toward Albuquerque in the United States. According to Haozous, the work depicts a border crossing.

"Everything in the work is a symbol," says Haozous, explaining that the full title of the work is called "Cultural Crossroads of the Americas." The barbed wire, which appears both in his work and along the U.S.-Mexico border, "is a dehumanizing part of our lives.... It's tremendous symbolism." As to why it was not part of the original model, he says: "The work matured in the studio."

Censorship or Contractual Obligations At the moment, the university is withholding payment to Haozous and is attempting to get the artist to remove the wire from the work. One of the other alternatives is to remove the sculpture altogether from the university grounds, says Walsh, who insists that the issue is not about censorship but about contractual obligations.

"It depends on your point of view, and I admit there are other points of view," concedes Walsh. If the barbed wire remains, it would both subvert the process and be unfair to the other artists who submitted their works, he says, because they participated in a competitive process.

"The piece he delivered may be better than the one he proposed, but we really want that piece [that was approved]. The one he delivered is significantly different," complains Walsh. The issue, says Walsh, is about respecting the integrity of the process. More than 200 people from the public approved the model. "Next time, when we ask people to help us choose, they will wonder: 'why should I bother to vote?' It encourages cynicism."

"We know art is controversial," adds Walsh. "I love his work because it is controversial. The wire gives it a different bite and meaning."

Haozous believes the controversy is not about the process, but rather about the message. People object to the fact that it's not decorative art -- not the kind of art that whites have become accustomed to seeing or that they have come to expect from Native Americans, says Haozous. "They don't want to see the holocaust against brown people, about what they're doing to them on the border," accuses Haozous. ....
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Last edited by Merlion : 06-24-2007 at 07:46 PM.
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Old 06-24-2007, 09:46 PM
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Re: (Barbed) Wired for Controversy

If you want to get paid big by those public commissions then you have to play by the rules. If you just want to make whatever you want, fine, then do that and sell it later. This guy wanted to have his cake and eat it too. If he had mentioned the word "razor wire" anywhere in his proposal it would have been immediately passed-over for safety reasons, not because his "message" was aggressive.
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Old 06-24-2007, 11:05 PM
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Re: (Barbed) Wired for Controversy

The artist should have said he added the barbed wire to prevent people climbing on the statue, and vandelism.
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Old 06-25-2007, 01:54 AM
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Re: (Barbed) Wired for Controversy

Prevent vandelism, that's funny. I wonder though, is it really because it's different than the proposed piece or is it the "message"? I'm not past believing myself that it is the latter and this would make the University wrong. I find the artists perspective cynical myself, but that's irellevent in the face of the contract.
In the end I'd say to pipe pink cake frosting on it if that's what the contract called for.
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Old 06-25-2007, 07:59 AM
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Re: (Barbed) Wired for Controversy

I notice this artist Bob Haozous seems to like using barbed wire on his sculptures. Here is another one, dated 2004, called Wired Face.

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Old 06-25-2007, 06:42 PM
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Re: (Barbed) Wired for Controversy

Merlion, it's clear from that 2004 face that he likes Native American imagery. The profile clearly is Aztec. The feather headresss also is an Aztec motif - Quetzalecoatl, the feathered serpent.
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Old 06-25-2007, 06:56 PM
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Re: (Barbed) Wired for Controversy

Quote:
Originally Posted by StevenW
Prevent vandelism, that's funny. .
LOL. It is intended to be funny. Notice the 'smile' icon.
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Old 06-25-2007, 07:01 PM
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Re: (Barbed) Wired for Controversy

Quote:
Originally Posted by fritchie
Merlion, it's clear from that 2004 face that he likes Native American imagery. .
Yes. And he is native American.

Chiricahua Apache sculptor Bob Haozous is outspoken. He is anxious about the state of our planet, deeply troubled by the invisible barriers we create in ourselves, and has strong opinions about the role of Native American artists. Quoted from Straight Talk with Bob Haozous
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Old 06-25-2007, 08:37 PM
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Re: (Barbed) Wired for Controversy

I once knew a Flathead Indian maiden named Linda Ducharme
beautiful, brilliant, sexy, had an ability to view everyday tribulations from a unique perspective and thereby solve problems for everyone around her.

She said that she was born and lived on a reservation which was mostly leased to ranchers, and in the middle of which was a dusty barbed wire compound wherein, they let her people live

being nobodies fool
when she was 12, she hiked out to the highway, and stuck out her thumb
ended up working for native rights organizations from Central America to the Canadian border

extrapolating from known data,
barbed wire may just have a deeper meaning for some people.
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Old 06-25-2007, 10:49 PM
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Re: (Barbed) Wired for Controversy

Here is an excellent example of barb wire having a significant meaning in sculpture. This is an image of I believe two cranes wrapped in barbed wire. It is at the Japanese American Memorial in Washington, D.C. commemorating the internment of the Japanese in America during WWII, a black mark on our history. It is a mark that has been very forgotten; one which we seem eager to repeat with our us vs. them administration.

http://www.dcmemorials.com/index_indiv0000070.htm
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Old 06-26-2007, 09:18 AM
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Re: (Barbed) Wired for Controversy

Hi, The sculpture in question that (has/had/mayhave) the barbed wire on it is an archway over a driveway entrance into the university. It sits on 2 tall brick posts so I don't think safety or vandalism is the problem.
this is an OLD STORY in NM and at this point, I do think the archway is up but without the b-wire.
Have a great day,
Jeff
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