I have been thinking about this work by David Maisel for a while, I first saw it here a few weeks ago, I have been mulling it over ever since… I don’t know how to feel about this work. It is visually stunning and beautiful, but at the same time I am feeling that it is exploitative, this is a gut reaction, it is not based on any real substance, but this instinctive, knee-jerk reaction is making me question whether my own work is also exploitative in the same fashion… I am still thinking about that, and I’d like to  know what you are thinking out there, so let me know if you have an opinion, is it giving voice to the forgotten, or is a glossy coffee table book exploitation of their suffering after the fact… is my work exploiting the same suffering? I am troubled.

2 thoughts on “hmmm…

  1. How did I miss this post?
    anyhow, here it goes (keep in mind I’m an autodidactic so my opinion isnt an educated one by ANY stretch)

    I looked at his work, found out what it was, and in response to your question I too have mixed feelings. In a way, it isn’t any more exploitive than a photographer who takes pictures of people (thinking the dust bowl, depression, 911 or just joe blow walking down the street right?) Artists usually need something external to work with that is already in existence yes? Aside from a painter or someone who sculpts, what you are doing, or this person has done is actually educating people if you want to look at it another way.
    Would I want to find out one of those canisters was a long lost relative…no. would I be happy seeing someone profit without my consent…who knows.
    I find his ‘blue canister’ grossly interesting, and then when I found out what it was I was intrigued but repelled as well. I don’t have reverence for ashes or bones, sorry, but I do have a pain about how messed up lives are, especially incarcerated, insane or otherwise ‘imprisoned’ people.

    What you have been working on doesn’t seem exploitive. I think you are intrigued and have compassion and interest in what you are doing. I certainly never thought much about this stuff until I saw your work. I have to believe you don’t harbor a morbid fascination with what you are doing, rather you are following some thread that resonates with you? I might ad, you are making something ‘ugly’ (meaning those womens’ experiences) into something rather beautiful. I dont know if I’m making sense, I’m not good at talking about art 😦

  2. Thanks Paula, I think they are beautiful… and after thinking about it …
    “A monument does not commemorate or celebrate something that happened but confides to the ear of the future the persistent sensations that embody the event”
    Deleuze and Guittari

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