'Time: No Parking, Reaching' is from a series called Real News, where various fake and real content is painted as a loose take on magazine covers such as Time, Vogue, People or Hustler… The Time cover is a cliche caricature of racist stereotypes, tasered on the the street with texts NO PARKING and REACHING. The painting is comprised of five canvases of different sizes, showing various angles and details as in a police file. The multiple canvases are wrapped together by a strap and installed suspended from the ceiling as packages ready to be shipped.
'Miss NRA' is part of our ongoing nude series, in this case depicting the winner of a non-existent beauty pageant of the National Rifle Association. It is our take on the classic contrast of Eros and Thanatos served in a Texas style barbecue rodeo of guns and girls, offering “hunting in Fergusson” as afterparty.
Nothing occurs in singularity. Nothing occurs in the life of a single person that does not occur in another. Nothing occurs in one location that does not cross borders into another. Nothing occurs in the mind of one man, one woman nor one child that does not transpose itself onto another. The occurrences of this past year (and the ones leading up to it) did not wreak havoc on the life of just one person, did not create chaos in just one country, did not unleash fear and discontent in just one group of people and it most certainly did not hold hostage just one singular soul.
This year has been a year of in-betweens. A place of unknowns and discomfort. Unfortunately, distraction is the human cure for such maladies. Stripped of our most obvious distractions we have been left with little but that which we abhor. Left without the option of disassociation... we are left with nothing but our truest selves. Our shadows. Our fears. Our prejudices. And our egos.
These works wander through my days of isolation and introspection. Events in my life, in addition to the obvious, conspired to force me to face my darkness and befriend the parts of myself that I have kept hidden away: wounds, fears, societal programming, habitual patterns and a death grip on the illusion of control. I have found through these long days and nights that the only way through... is through. That I must learn to find acceptance in what is and surrender to the discomfort. That I must sit and breath through the chaos. That I must learn to just BE.
It is a universal truth that all things shall pass. What sets us apart, both individual and country, is whether or not we choose to learn from the opportunities offered to us and who we choose to become on the other side.
Michael J. Rowland
I chose this recent piece of mine to represent the Five of Wands in my Tarot pack as it depicts the struggle both internal and external of artists and others of a passionate nature who wish they could do something to change our current situation for the better. The Five of Wands in the Rider Waite pack depicts 5 young men training for battle with large wooden staffs. Likewise we are all of us training to cope in this 'new world' and, in the best case scenario, protect each other and guide each other towards a better way of living. Satire and violence can only carry us so far in our attempt to keep sane amidst such chaos. We are at a pivotal moment in history and must play our cards intelligently.
In the painting 'Star Spangled Twat' we see Kenickie attempting to stop Danny ('Grease' 1982) from punching Trump ('Shit Storm' 2020) in his fat, stupid, ugly face.
FIVE OF WANDS
Striking poses. Licking cans. Catching hell from the man.
Let me get my hands on the gormless fucker; wipe that shit-kicking grin off his greasy lips.
Behind Nana’s cinema screen in silhouette we can see her (hourglass figure turned upside down and running) ask him, “What will the gang jacket read?” He picks her up like heroes do and carries her off to the black limousine parked out back.
“Thunderbirds,” he says, “We are called the Thunderbirds.”
With heads in hands we call upon our spirit animal to walk us safely across the zebra crossing and feed us milkduds as we learn how to do it all by ourselves. My chain dangling free and skipping behind me till we get to the tree trunk which I would always climb up then jump from, shouting, “GERONIMOOOO!”
I cry when I think of you, now you are so far away. Locked down here with nothing but my memories and my television. “Did you hear what the buffoon said on the news last night?”
Compassion will out. Leave him to his bed of nails and lack of anything resembling intelligence. Si tu voyais ton visage ! Tu as l'air d'un con.
The chemical table weighing in on the matter with heavy hands and penile dysfunctions and oh boy, if you think these teenage delinquents will let that go by unnoticed then you were born under a powerful mean star.
Push push push.
Hold me back. Hold me back.
And don’t hit my light sabre too hard. It’s only thin plastic. Just lightly like that. I know its not the same but that star-spangled twat wouldn’t give us anything sturdier than the promise of a fucking miracle.
We’ll be ready for the call up, sister, man, brother.
“You know what Mum said to me yesterday after I told her I’d been to the army recruitment centre and they told me I could be sent abroad within a few weeks and be a sniper? She looked at me sadly and said with great emotion, ‘You’re not a sniper, Carl.’”
The great temptation is to pulverise him but I would settle for punching him in the eye. Transsexuals and transvestites and the binary males and females and asexuals, pansexuals, genderqueer, non-binaries, the questioning and heterosexuals and the wholly disinterested shall rise and the harmful and tragic news will be heard throughout the known unknowns and the pope and the devil will hold hands and dance an awkward dance like Harry and Hermione did in the tent in film of the book Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
We shall surpass labels until our alphabetti spaghetti runs deeper than Woden’s letterbox.
Teach me all your best karate moves and krav maga and I promise I’ll give you the best goddamn foot massages when all this is over.
Who needs the peace corps when you got Fred and Ginger rioting like pixelated Martians in the brown cleavage of Picasso’s youngest mistress in the arms of the hero in the back of the limousine.
“Dobri Lide Se Bouri. Good People Riot. That’s what it reads on my jacket. It’s not a gang jacket like yours but it’s instigatory don’t you think?”
I do. Now take it off.
The spotlight drifts from the ace bunch with their big sticks to the storm drains of Venice, California, where a normal sized man with a stick of his own is zooming around in a child’s red pussy wagon. His purpose? To explode the idiot president with nuclear powered satire and ‘tiny little dick’ jokes. Oh, and rip the concrete heart from his spindly, rotten chest. Then run over it with his pussy wagon.
No conflict no poetry. No movement no strife.
No guns, no grenades, no throwing stars, no knives.
Just sticks at this stick party. And cider. Lots of cider.
And dancing girls of all elements.
In the tortured orchard,
mad minutes and a spiteful storm,
as another apple falls
far from the tree,
its heavy belly hits the hard ground
as it settles ungracefully,
the floor groans then shrugs
as worms and slugs begin
breaking the apple's skin
to suck out its sweet intestines,
as the tree bends in silent defiance,
anchored stubbornly like the
last landlord on earth
Franz Kafka’s work is very close to me philosophically, but also in its visual richness.
As a trained cartographer and visual artist, I have been working for 25 years on landscapes that are always formed from the cartographic distance of the bird’s eye view.
The recurring longing that forms when thinking of an unexpected scenic challenge is reflected in my work by a pulsating magnetic field. This - also metaphorical - approach builds a bridge between my artistic work and Kafka’s literature. In my work as well as in Kafka’s texts, the distance and closeness is what drives the work. This results in a thought construct of an abstract, always floating, world bedded in the dark, which represents a limitless structure that keeps thinking ahead. In Kafka’s stories, the description of an inner observation is at the same time a metaphor for a mental inner map that draws attention to outer, dark circumstances, which allows inside and outside to correspond in many ways.
Both Kafka’s AMERIKA and DAS SCHLOSS and other stories are about understanding the situation in which the protagonist finds himself, be it as a surveyor, tramp or newcomer to a foreign country. The loss of a coordinate system is always about failure, looking at oneself, turning and still not getting any further. In failure due to the constant passivity of the literary main character, the path to advancement remains stuck in the imaginary. The new home is not tangible for the main actor of AMERIKA, Karl Roßmann. The reason for a forced new beginning, the departure ordered by his family, turns out to be an imaginary hope. The beginning darkness in the book, whether at the stoker or the night crossing on the ship, represents the dreamy, intangible world of new life for Karl. This mysteriousness of being continues and actually never leads to solutions or even to light.
Summary: If there is no escape from the world, it is still possible, with and in artistic work such as painting, to precisely uncover elements, the conditions that rule this world and are created by it. My selected work on Kafka’s AMERIKA is made possible by the fact that it realizes the multilayered complexity of darkness and suffering by Karl Roßmann and transforms the representation of a land of promise into the power of constant nocturnal irritations.
This poem was originally an outro to an early experimental documentary of mine “Intro-Cultural to Skit-zo-frenia” (thirdworldnewsreel) in which codes of “blackness” were interrogated. Years later I decided to re-create this poem in the form of this video as a kind of answer to some aspects of the “post-black” dialogues that were happening at that time. However the overall theme, flipping a very charged word on its head, exposes the not so black and white underpinnings of the AmeriKan narrative as it relates to “Race” and Displacement.
The Isolation Collection