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Joshua Neustein | USA

Fanning the Fear, 2010

200 / 300 cm

Courtesy of the artist

Rock Paper Scissors, Shoot, 2000
video installation three screens

Courtesy of the artist

Rock Paper Scissors The thesis: The rock thrower is an icon of contemporary politics and insurgency. Consequently the image is recruited as a propaganda tool of political struggle.

The art video is not recruited to the propaganda of either the thrower of the rock or the rock thrower. For the perpetrator the performance is heroic insurgency, patriotic act of nationalism.

For the person who is hit by the rock the act is, vandalism, cowardice, provocation or terror campaign. What is it for the viewer of the image? For the un- recruited viewer, from the literary plastic art viewpoint the “rock thrower” is an expanding metaphor of competing narratives of the two peoples and their relative powers to attract and enthrall the political identities.

The Metaphor of this installation is that the rock throwers are a consequence of ideologies, fabricated by manifestos media, fashion and activists. Most often the political movements are not mass movements but elitist campaigns that recruit, sometimes force, and eventually enthrall their own public as well a wider vicarious world audience.

The title Rock Paper Scissors, Shoot” is a game that crosses many cultures, it is about chance, opposition, dominance, psychological tactics. The paper covers the rock thereby gaining control of it, the scissors can shear, cut and paste the paper to its scissored design and the rock can break the cutting edge of the scissors. The game is played by children by jutting out their hand in the form of a fist (rock); a V- made by index and middle fingers, that represents scissors; or a open hand (kaf yad) that represents the paper. Both sides must act innately decide which of the three hand signs they will extend and not respond to the others gesture. Both sides extend their gesture simultaneously. Timing is essential for the game.

Fanning the Fear is a tableau of current politics. The slow moving rotors of the ceiling fan and its two shadows are reminiscent of scenes in the movie Casablanca. In the old film the advancing lines of the approaching enemy are traced along a screen sized map. In the present cartographic sculpture revolving shadows over the room sized map act as the looming threat of impending violence.

Maps are not a neutral record of geological reality, road charts or border markings. They organize the world along established power axes, legitimize ownership, witness history, enfranchise, disenfranchise or provoke peoples. Maps act as instruments of law, “title deeds” of authority and control. In time of wars between America and Islamic nations, sense of comfort is subverted by the Arabic signs. The very markings in Arabic insinuate and disseminate fear.

Contemporary metropolitan cities are strongly characterized not only by geographical borders, but by borders separating between cultures and faiths. The big cities, inhabited by diverse populations, constantly attempt to preserve a pluralistic balance by creating a continuous and agreed upon order and consensus, which simultaneously separate and create the delicate balance necessary to maintain stability and relative peace.

Every major or even minor change can reignite the disagreement and tension already existent between the various communities. Recently, the attempt to build a mosque at or close to ground zero has highlighted the issue. The site, which still stirs fresh memories, rises and arouses with it public protest and the question of the necessity of agreed upon borders.

The charged concept of borders in Neustein’s work once again challenges our thoughts and imagination as to the present existence and the possible future one.